Government set on IPPs despite coal-truck drivers’ protest

Government set on IPPs despite coal truck drivers’ protest

The South African government seem to be set on implementing its independent power producers (IPP) programme despite the recent protest by coal-truck drivers, which brought Pretoria’s traffic to a stanstill.

Jeff Radebe, minister in the presidency, said on Friday, March 3: “Government notes the concerns of contracted coal transporters regarding the impact that renewable energy projects may have on the supply of coal to Eskom, which may affect jobs in their industry.”

He said that any changes in the government’s reliance on coal will not automatically adversely affect the coal transporters and that government will be as careful and inclusive as possible in implementing renewable energy projects.

“Government is open to constructive engagement with the legitimate leaders of the coal trucking industry to address issues. The system relies on a combination of base-load coal and nuclear, and an intermittent supply of electricity renewables and gas,” noted Radebe.

On the morning of Wednesday, March 1, traffic around Pretoria was gridlocked when more than 250 contracted coal-truck drivers from the Coal Transporters Forum (CTF) drove side-by-side to protest against government plans to use IPPs. Mary Phadi, a spokesperson at the CTF, said the truck drivers are opposed to the government’s Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme, as its members – as well as coal mine and plant employees – may lose their jobs.

The Forum handed over a memorandum to President Jacob Zuma’s office at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. The memorandum demanded that Eskom refrain from signing agreements with IPPs (which Zuma had promised in his State of the Nation Address).

Radebe concluded: “It is clear from the 2016 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) draft that South Africa will continue to deploy coal electricity in the energy mix.”

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