By Bev Mortimer
Kouga Municipality will remain the gateway for implementing off-site-related infrastructure elements.
This was stated in an Eskom press release issued last night which also says in a meeting with Kouga’s executive Mayor, Elza van Lingen, it was agreed the municipality will hold a central role in coordinating with Eskom and other stakeholders on plans going forward.
The Eskom release said it met with van Lingen last week, 21 September, to discuss its plans to install nuclear reactors at its preferred site at Thyspunt. The release also said van Lingen welcomed Eskom’s move to engage and work together with the Municipality.
The mayor indicated Kouga Municipality had a pivotal role to play and as such would need project information upfront and frequently in order to assess the impact on the Municipality’s spatial development plans, among other things, the release said.
This meeting with van Lingen followed on from the meeting (the day before) on 20 September with the Kouga Business Forum (KBF) and Kouga Rural Business Development Council (KRBDC). At this meeting Eskom representatives said Eskom will ensure infrastructure will be in place before the construction of a nuclear power plant at Thyspunt.
(See article on this 20 September meeting: https://stfrancischronicle.com/2016/09/26/eskom-will-ensure-kouga-infrastructure-in-place-before-thyspunt/
According to the Eskom release, the meetings are part of Eskom’s stakeholder engagement plan for the implementation of the nuclear new build programme.
The meeting with Kouga’s new mayor, van Lingen, follows on from efforts made by past mayor, Daphne Kettledas who in June this year said: “The municipality reached out to Salga because we were concerned the municipality was being excluded from important discussions and decisions regarding the proposed development.
“While it is a national project being driven by national role players in order to address national energy demands, it is ultimately Kouga and her people who stand to benefit – or lose – the most should the development get the go-ahead,” Kettledas said.
“As the local Council, we are very excited that Salga Eastern Cape has agreed to facilitate communication between us and various role players. Through this partnership, we wish to ensure that our communities and businesses benefit optimally from the opportunities and are not hurt by the potential negative impacts of the development.”
At this month’s meeting with the KBF Eskom’s project director for nuclear new build, Loyiso Tyabashe, gave an overview of Eskom’s role as owner and operator for nuclear power in South Africa:
“Thyspunt is a project of national significance, accounting for 4 000 MW of government’s plan to build 9 600 MW nuclear power. Eskom will work with local stakeholders to build capacity for the project from civil works to prepare the site, right up to the skills required to run and maintain the project.
“Eskom will support whatever is deemed necessary and appropriate to ensure that the project succeeds. The Socio Economic Development Plan currently under development will ensure that requisite stakeholder inputs are incorporated to the extent practical to ensure that spheres such as education and skills development, local infrastructure development, health and the like remain the focus areas.”
Eskom confirmed the KBF welcomed the meeting between Eskom and the Business Forum.
The release quoted Jordaan as saying: “We support the nuclear new build but we need to plan ahead. We envisage there’ll be an influx of people and we need to hold each other’s hands to address needs and concerns before building commences.
“Our needs include physical infrastructure, development of knowledge and skills locally and finance.”
Eskom’s general manager for supplier development and localisation, Mandla Gobingca, indicated Eskom was looking at the enterprise capacity of the site vicinity. “We are looking at local infrastructure first to get a view of current capabilities within the area. Some preliminary work shows there are some challenges.
“We will share the results of the study and then plan together in terms of building the capacity so that when the time comes for the project to commence local people are able to take up the opportunity. Eskom’s interest is ensuring that the project creates jobs and skills and transforms the local economy in line with government’s BBBEE plans.”
Eskom said all stakeholders at the meetings emphasised the need for Eskom to communicate frequently and in simple terms with local communities to ensure people understand what is going to happen, when and how it will affect them and what benefits can be expected. “Eskom indicated it was gearing its resources towards fulfilling this role of communicating and engaging with stakeholders in the region.
The release further said it was concluded in both engagements that Eskom needed a formalised structure to convene frequently (eg quarterly) with stakeholders to ensure information on the project is streamlined and shared in good time to enable all stakeholders to plan accordingly.
“This will also eliminate misinformation that arises when there is a communication vacuum,” the Eskom press release added.