Cape Town - Eskom has recruited about 5000 unskilled workers from the town of Lephalale in the construction of its Medupi power station in Limpopo, says Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan.
Once it is up and running, the station - which is the biggest build project in the southern hemisphere - will create an additional 1 000 operation and maintenance jobs.
Hogan, briefing the media on the work done by government's Infrastructure Development Cluster on Monday, said government would also spend R10.1 billion on the construction of the Mokolo-Crocodile Water Augmentation Project for the provision of water to the power station.
She said the R60 billion it was putting into Eskom was not a bailout, but rather an reinvestment.
She pointed out that a bailout took place when an entity became insolvent, but in the case of Eskom, the government being its sole shareholder was simply providing the utility with further liquidity.
She said what the recent power crisis had shown was that one could no longer regard Eskom as the sole provider of energy, adding that the utility was very near to signing co-generation agreements with large companies that could feed power back into the national grid.
The construction of Medupi is one of several projects on the go to expand Eskom's capacity.
Head of the cluster, Minister of Transport S'bu Ndebele, said other projects include the return of previously mothballed units of Camden, Grootvlei and Komati coal-fired power plants, the completion of gas turbines at Ankerlig and Gourikwa and the increase of capacity at Arnot coal-fired station.
Two other power stations were also being planned at Kusile and Ingula, while the Duvha, Matla and Kriel power stations are being refurbished to extend their life span.
A proposal is also being considered for a wind energy facility with 50 turbines, to create 100MW of power.
Ndebele said Eskom's build programme would create about 160 000 indirect and direct jobs - 40 000 of these in the construction sector.
He said the government planned to spend R846 billion over the next three years on building new roads, power stations and new sewage reticulation systems among others things, in what Hogan described as "one of biggest" infrastructure build programmes in the world.
The spend includes R385 billion by Eskom, R93.4 billion by Transnet on ports, rail and pipelines, R20 billion by Airports Company South Africa (Acsa) on airports, R70 billion on roads, R25 billion on railways and R4 billion on public transport systems for World Cup host cities.