Constructing the Medupi Power Station

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Publication Date:
April 27, 2012

Ivey Publishing

Professional sports industry

Medupi, rising from the dry Limpopo Province bush veld, was the first baseload project built in South Africa in 20 years. It would be the largest dry-cooled coal-fired power station in the world and was developed by Eskom, which generated 90 per cent of Southern Africa’s power, at an estimated cost of R125 billion. In spite of the worldwide concern about greener energy, coal remains the most popular power station fuel for South Africa, due to the country’s vast resources of 224 million tonnes annually. The new capacity Medupi would offer was sorely needed. Regular and nationwide load shedding, due to a shortage of capacity, affected the entire country during 2007 and 2008 and all businesses were asked to turn off non-essential lighting and equipment, even during the day. It had been no mean feat to keep to a project schedule that involved various suppliers providing different packages at different and also required accommodating several interfaces during both the design and implementation of the on site. Due to the massive scale of the project as well as the highly specialized civil engineering required for different sections of Medupi’s construction, three companies joined forces to tackle the job, namely Murray & Roberts, Aveng and Concor. Murray & Roberts appointed Coenie Vermaak as project director at Medupi and at 34 the youngest project director in the group. The managers of the joint venture realized quickly that this would be “a project like no other.” The three companies’ different ways of working necessitated much more integrated coordination. For instance, employees from the different parent organizations had different job descriptions, were numerated differently, had different benefits, structures, processes and cultures.

Medupi’s uniqueness provided an opportunity to be pioneers in the construction industry and to “reconstruct construction” with a different way of working on a construction site. A culture of employee engagement and alignment was required.

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Constructing the Medupi Power Station

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