10 Jun

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan’s valiant efforts to bring Eskom under control about a year ago have failed miserably and come to nought as the power utility moved to Stage 6 load shedding from 18h00 last night.

 South Africa is in deep trouble.

We know there is no magic formula, and we don’t want a magic formula. What we want is a power utility that is responsibly managed, enabling South Africans to live quality lives and get on with their business enterprises.

As a nation, and more specifically UASA as a union that looks out for its members, we had hoped that the Eskom crisis would be solved by now, but instead we have to live with Stage 6 load shedding.

Clearly the power utility has no idea how to resolve its current issues.

What happened to the technical review task team, assisted by  independent engineers, that was appointed months ago to examine plant unavailability due to scheduled maintenance; plant unavailability due to unplanned outages and unscheduled maintenance; operator errors resulting in power plants tripping and shutting down; and technical and operator-associated inefficiencies resulting in lower than optimum electricity output from the power station units? Are they still active?

The cumulative effect and cost of load shedding on the average South African is devastating. Over and above the billions of rand a day lost due to load shedding, there are other effects on the man in the street that hardly get a mention such as

  • · the loss of cell phone signals impacting doing business or one’s job
  • · security concerns during the extended load shedding periods
  • · many productive hours lost in traffic
  • · ever looming challenges with companies that are heavily dependent on electricity and threats of closures and restructuring
  • · banks and other businesses closing at the most inconvenient times, preventing transactions being concluded
  • · hours more spent in traffic and traffic jams because of traffic lights not working
  • · instead of homemade meals, workers must deal with the extra expense of buying fast foods and takeaways for their families, probably in far off neighbourhoods where load shedding occurs at different hours

A short stroll down a busy small business area during load shedding indicates just how dire the situation is. People sitting outside because they cannot work. Kitchens, laundries, opticians, veterinary clinics are closed and therefore losing money. Micro businesses are hit the hardest as many cannot afford generators. Micro and medium sized business employers will soon be unable to afford to pay staff and more South Africans will join the masses of the unemployed. 

Gordhan and Eskom need to develop a clear idea of what is needed to resolve the crisis before it is too late. If it is, indeed, not already too late.

For further enquiries or to set up a personal interview, contact Stanford Mazhindu at 074 978 3415.

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