Eskom’s rolling blackouts are killing the economy

DURBAN – Local businesses are suffering serious losses, motorists have to deal with traffic jams and critically ill patients are facing dire consequences, as a result of Eskom implementing Stage 4 load shedding.

For a New Germany resident, Stage 4 load shedding could literally kill her elderly mother.

At the weekend, Mandy Viljoen had to fork out R2500 for a new canister for her mother’s oxygen tank, which she uses 24 hours a day.

Viljoen’s mother, Margaret Jansen, suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and relies on an oxygen tank to breathe.

The tank needs electricity and Stage 4 load shedding, which can lead to power cuts of up to three times a day in one area, had a huge impact on their family, Jansen said.

“At the weekend, we got an alert about Stage 4 load shedding and the place where we usually get her cylinders from was running low. We managed to borrow a portable oxygen cylinder but if they called us to ask for it back, my mom would have had no oxygen to use when load shedding kicked in,” she said.

Local businesses have also reported suffering losses as a result of the rolling blackouts that see them without electricity for much of the day.

Charisse Boshoff, the co-owner of Mooki Noodles in Glenwood, said they were often left without power for hours on end.

“We use fresh produce for our meals and have to rely on inverters and batteries for our kitchen staff to see what they are doing. We have lost a lot of stock. In February, we had to throw away R5000 worth of stock due to power outages,” she said.

An employee of a printing shop in the area said they’d had had to refer business to their competitors.

“Load shedding has had a major impact on us as we have less turnaround time for our print work. These jobs can cost anything from R2 to R20000 per day. When the lights do come back on, it takes a while for our machines to start up and then you find we barely start a job and the lights go back off,” he said.

He added that they are also having to work overtime just to meet the deadlines given by their clients.

Highway resident Maryna Begemann, who runs a laundromat, said they only had electricity for a few hours each day.

“It is holiday time and this is the only time of the year that we really make some money. We only have two machines working and we are trying to get something done,” Begemann said.

Load shedding has also had a major impact on traffic in and around the city.

Glenashley resident Patrick Coyne said that with load shedding, motorists were often confused at intersections and there were no pointsmen to help.

“Older citizens may remember that in years gone past, whenever a traffic light failed, very soon if not immediately, a point-duty traffic policeman would arrive at the scene and begin directing the traffic, smartly and efficiently,” he said.

The president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Musa Makhunga, said load shedding was having a significant disruptive effect and negative impact on the local and regional economy, as Durban and the province played host to some of the country’s largest manufacturing and industrial companies.

“It has been reported that, over the last three days, load shedding has cost the country approximately R12 billion. Durban and South Africa simply cannot afford load shedding. This current crisis is resulting in severe short- and long-term socio-economic consequences for our country,” he said.

THE MERCURY 

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