Durban – Generators might be on the wish list of small businesses in KZN this Christmas as uncertainty looms over whether there will be load shedding over the festive season.
Restaurants which usually expect good trading at this time of the year were obliged to invest in generators so that they could keep their doors open.
Jason Swart manager at the Dukkah Restaurant and Bar on Florida Road said the business had been hit hard by load shedding recently.
He said they had to invest in a generator in order to continue making profit during dark hours.
“Load shedding is destroying our business. We are suffering. Generators are very expensive, but we are now prepared.”
Edward Gwenha, manager at the Elephant & Co restaurant in Pietermaritzburg, said due to load shedding the business had to acquire a generator two weeks ago.
“In our industry it is important to have a generator. Our service relies on them when we experience load shedding.”
Load shedding hit a peak this week, with Stage 6 being implemented.
Professor Bonke Dumisa, a Durban economist, said it was time for bold decisions to be made in order to turn the situation around at the state-owned entity. He said the ship was sinking and it was the government’s responsibility to start rebuilding.
“Load shedding has caused a lot of havoc on our economy; this is not just a question of estimating or guessing it, this is reality. Some mines have had to close early. They lose millions of rands per day if they don’t operate.”
Dumisa said among those severely affected were small businesses. Perishable goods were damaged during power outages and most businesses were not insured.
“Business owners cannot sue the municipality and when goods go off they have to be thrown out,” he said.
Palesa Phili, chief executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said she was appalled at the lack of planning demonstrated by Eskom which inflicted severe negative economic effects on all electricity consumers including the manufacturing sector. “As we head into the festive season, which is a very busy period for many small and micro-businesses across the country, a greater level of understanding of the impact of load shedding will need to be demonstrated by Eskom if the faith of the business community and electricity users is to be restored,” said Phili.
Nto Rikhotso, Eskom spokesperson, confirmed that the power utility had cancelled load shedding, but said there were no guarantees that lights would remain on for the rest of the week.
“There is no load shedding right now, but if anything changes at short notice then we will issue a statement. Going into the new week we will have to review availability.
“In essence demand should be going down now, but it’s a day-by-day situation,” she said.