Geotechnical and civil engineering company Esorfranki is undertaking the construction of complex subterranean service infrastructure at State-owned utility Eskom’s Kusile power station, in Mpumalanga.
The company is responsible for the construction of large reinforced concrete tunnels, as well as excavating and laying concrete and polyvinyl chloride pipes in and around the power station.
Most of the tunnels, which will be covered by precast lids to enable follow-on contractors to install electrical and piping services, have a total length of about 4 km and are, on average, 3 m deep and between 3 m to 9 m wide.
The complexity of the project is exacerbated by the number of contractors simultaneously working at the power station and the overlapping and integration of work that needs to be carried out, says Esorfranki director Adrian de Jager.
He says the completion of the company’s work is dependent on the completion of other contractors’ work. “Should they not complete their work, we cannot complete ours.”
Working with and among other contractors has been the biggest challenge for the company. In many instances, Esorfranki has not been able to access work areas because previous contractors had not completed their work or had left materials or machinery behind in the work areas, De Jager states.
The company started its contract at Kusile in March last year and is scheduled to complete the work in December 2013.
Esorfranki contractors director Scott Robertson states that the contract is currently within budget, but somewhat behind schedule. “Certain portions of the work have been completed on time but, owing to the complexity of the project, some sections are a bit behind.”
The company’s mitigation measures include increasing the resources for the particular tasks that are behind schedule, working longer hours and negotiating with the client for extensions of time on the various affected areas, depending on the reason for the delay.
He adds that the scope of the work is divided into 42 sections and specific work pieces have to be completed at specific times.
Kusile is the second-most advanced coal-fired Eskom power plant project after the Medupi power station currently under construction in Lephalale.
Kusile will comprise six 800 MW units and will be one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the world once completed.