TRANSNET and ESKOM Reports Defy Reality

Two reports on the front page of Business Report would be well placed if the publication date was April 1 and not July 28.

Even allowing for the mysteries of creative accounting, it simply beggars belief that Transnet reports a profit of R5 billion when last year it posted a loss of R8,7 billion. Credibility is stretched further when the vast losses due to vandalism are factored into the situation: 1,500km of overhead cable which contributed to its inability to transport 15 million tons of coal.  And those losses are continuing, as chairperson Popo Molefe admits, along with whole sections of railway line.

Yet despite that and the anaemic state of the economy this past year, which chief executive Portia Derby euphemistically described as “headwinds,” Transnet’s “recovery” defies reality.

The absurdity of the other report resembling an April 1 prank, concerns Eskom‘s announcement that it is “gearing up for a transition to renewables” at a possible cost of R1,2 trillion. Despite its R400 billion debt, which is mainly due to bankrupt municipalities and can never be recouped, the author of this Alice in Wonderland scenario, the manager of planning and strategy, Matthew Mflathelwa, confidently asserts that Eskom is “creating an environment” to attract investors!

Where has Mflathelwa been recently that he has missed Germany’s about-turn on renewables because they simply are unable to provide the necessary power? Has he not noticed that nuclear and fossil fuel-fired stations are back on the front burner of how Germany seeks to keep its power grid stocked? Has Mflathelwa not read of the continued power cuts in California because the wind turbines and solar panels cannot produce enough energy?

This ridiculous romance with renewables, of course, is the result of the unscientific claim that fossil fuels are responsible for global warming and climate change. History shows that warming periods had occurred when fossil fuels were not in use such as between 200 BC and 300 AD and between 900 and 1300. Moreover, global temperature ranges have been consistent since 1960 and climate change is a natural, historical occurrence.

South Africa is gifted with huge coal reserves. That is the logical and economic investment route to take in expanding energy generation. Power stations based on coal can be developed at a fraction of the cost of Mflathelwa’s pipedream.

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