JOHANNESBURG – ESKOM is set to offload its controversial multimillion-rand residential development project in Mpumalanga before the end of September as part of raising more than R2 billion in capital.
The power utility said yesterday that it would finalise the sale of Die Wilge Flats near the Kusile power station during the first half of the current financial year.
It would also sell its Lephalale stands near the Medupi power station in Limpopo to raise more money.
Meanwhile, Eskom said it would implement stage 2 load shedding yesterday due to a shortage of generation capacity.
Yesterday, the struggling power utility said it had raised R76.1 million from the disposal of two high-rise office buildings in Kimberley and Johannesburg as part of its strategy to sell non-core immovable properties.
These properties were previously used as regional offices, but staff have been moved to other locations.
Eskom has given the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation the first right of refusal on all properties with a residential potential, in line with government policy.
The utility said the department would convert the Kimberley building into social housing units, while the building in Braamfontein would accommodate university students in Johannesburg.
“In total, Eskom aims to raise more than R2bn from the sale of non-core property,” Eskom said.
“Other non-core immovable property is being offered for sale through the government’s process of property disposal,” it said.
The construction of Die Wilge Flats in eMalahleni ballooned from the budgeted R160m in 2008 to R840m when the project was abandoned in 2019.
At the time, Eskom said it would launch a forensic investigation into allegations of corruption and maladministration in relation to the project, but nothing has come of this yet.
The four-storey building that consists of 336 apartments was built to accommodate Eskom employees who were working on the construction of the Kusile power station.
Instead, Eskom spent millions of rand on alternative accommodation for workers 50km from the power station, which required a daily commute for staff.
Eskom said the property disposal process was in line with its process of unbundling into three separate units and its bid to raise capital.
Eskom now needs every cent it can recoup to plug its debt, which stood at R464bn by the end of last month.
In February, Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha admitted that the incomplete Die Wilge was a great waste of taxpayers’ money.
“Various factors kept increasing the budget, but it also spent a lot of money accommodating the workers, finding alternative accommodation for them,” Mantshantsha said at the time.
“It must be the first housing project that took 10 years to build and was still incomplete at almost four times the budget.”
The Department of Human Settlements has shown an appetite for taking over Eskom’s incomplete property to help address the huge housing shortage.