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Mega makeover: What R500-million buys Eskom

Mega makeover: What R500-million buys Eskom

May 14, 2014

As South Africans continue to seek ways of dealing with exorbitant electricity bills, the country’s electricity supplier Eskom – which earlier this year revealed that it was facing “financial difficulty” – has shocked consumers once again with the news that it would be undertaking a R500-million upgrade at its Megawatt Park headquarters.

Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger responded to press queries by saying that the 35-year-old building is “in violation of health and safety requirements”, and that what has been dubbed South Africa’s own “Extreme Makeover”  would make the building “healthy, safe and energy efficient”.

So, as South Africans stock up with blankets, candles and – where affordable – generators for the almost-certain load-shedding they will probably experience in the upcoming winter months, what does R500-million buy Eskom?

According to  the Democratic Alliance (DA) – which wrote to the chairperson on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts Themba Godi demanding Eskom executives urgently be summoned to Parliament over the refurbishment – here’s where some of the money is going:

• R3 million earmarked for a VIP entrance and offices plus R60 800 for curtaining
• Landscaping at R1,4 million, featuring LED strip lights and a “timber-clad seating wall” made from Rhodesian teak
• Timber deck walkways, carpet tiles in “Eskom blue” and semi-polished porcelain floor and wall tiles
• Revamped cafés, “pause areas” with brushed aluminium skirting; a 9 metre-high newsstand; feature walls and an awards cabinet
• Air conditioning, heating and ventilation at a cost of R81 million
• Automatic (motorised) venetian window blinds
• A parking area featuring racks to accommodate 244 bicycles and toilet cubicles with custom-designed graphic wallpaper and new sanitary ware

Ironically (as the DA report noted), the state energy supplier will also be installing an R8, 5 million emergency generator and a R6, 7 million uninterrupted power supply system in order to ensure the lights stay on at its offices.

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