SABC News: Small business owners complain about power outages caused by load shedding

Small business owners say the short notice of power outages caused by load shedding is inconvenient because it gives them no time to plan. Eskom implemented stage 4 load shedding on Tuesday morning after Majuba unit 5 and Tutuka unit 4 tripped.

Eskom says the cold weather and persistent rain since the long weekend resulted in increased demand for electricity and disrupted its planned maintenance schedule.

Small business owners say they are frustrated with the intermittent electricity supply. This businessman who runs a steel producing company near Devland, south of Johannesburg, says the power outages are destroying his business.

“It obviously hurts the pocket. It affects everyone, there’s downtime. … Obviously with no power, it will impact any business.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Institute John Dludlu says last year’s unrest and the current continuous power cuts, are dealing a heavy blow to small businesses.

“Some businesses have not been able to reinstate their insurance policies. They had to cut back. So, the blow of load shedding right now is coming on top of those vulnerabilities.”

He says many are forced to seek alternative forms of power generation like generators, but this too comes at an extra cost, many can ill-afford.

“And our members have been telling us that they are very frustrated. Instead of planning for growth, they have as a result of the unreliability of the power situation decided to shelve those plans. Those who are lucky and still have quite a bit of money are obviously getting off the grid and making alternative plans such as buying generators and using gas so that they mitigate the impact of load shedding.”

Johannesburg’s City Power says it is also affected by load shedding. Spokesperson Isaac Mangena says, “We are badly affected as an entity, as we are not making money during load shedding. In fact, we are losing millions due to the impact this has on our infrastructure and the equipment that fails over time. We have to get more teams on shifts, recall colleagues that are on leave to basically attend to the hourly switch on and offs.”

He says stage four load shedding will prolong City Power’s response time to electricity outage calls. On Tuesday morning over 3 000 outage calls were logged. City Power has come under attack from the public who accused it of not sticking to the load shedding schedule and taking time to restore electricity. Mangena says there are a number of factors that contribute to the delay in the restoration of electricity.

“Our load shedding schedule is standard and aligned to the one of Eskom. The delays in the restorations in some of the areas may be due to a number of reasons including the trips that happen during the in-rush current, the overloading when we switch on, theft and vandalism during load shedding and also this could be due to the blow-ups of our transformers and mini-substations and even the cables when we are trying to restore electricity.”

Eskom says it expects most of its units to come back into operation by Thursday evening before load shedding is suspended.

by SABC News –

Tshepo Phagane