The power grid will remain incredibly vulnerable even after the period of emergency load-shedding is lifted, Eskom said on Thursday.

The parastatal said the grid will remain vulnerable for at least another two years.

Millions of South Africans were left without power for between two and four hours on Thursday.

This resulted in traffics jams, businesses closing and families being unable to cook food.

Eskom instituted its programme of planned power cuts this morning, saying that the last five days of rain left its coal supplies too wet.

Company spokesperson Andrew Etzinger said once this load-shedding period was over, the grid would remain under strain for a long time.

“It will persist for the next two years as it will take that long for us to bring capacity back on and catch up on the immense backlog we have on our existing generators.”

Energy expert Chris Yelland said Eskom needs to look at itself in the mirror.

“They blame labour when there is a strike, they blame their contractors, there is always a reason and it is never Eskom. I think Eskom needs to stand up and say, we are the monopoly generator. We are the generator of last resort, it’s our problem and we take it on the chin.”

At the same time, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said load-shedding will hurt businesses badly if the problem persists.

Sacci CEO Neren Rau said: “If we have load-shedding on a sustained basis, one of the adverse consequences which we hope won’t cross our path is that some businesses will have to reduce their operations.”

Meanwhile, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said Eskom’s top people are managing the power system to make this period of load-shedding as short as possible.

The minister’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said Gigaba was in the Eskom control room on Thursday.

“The best executives are working tirelessly around the clock. They have been working since midnight last night on this issue. They have been looking at a number of alternatives, load-shedding is obviously a last resort.”