‘Fairer’ load shedding soon

2008-04-03 00:00

FOLLOWING a public outcry about the load-shedding schedule, the municipality has promised a revised and more accommodating programme for next week.

Residents and businesses criticised the scheduling as unfair and uneven. The municipality also came under fire for failing to stick to its schedules.

Msunduzi strategic executive manager for infrastructure, services and facilities, Philemon Mashoko, said yesterday all concerns will be dealt with. He said after receiving complaints from business and domestic users about the current schedules, the municipality decided to review the programme.

The new programme is expected to alternate times, so the same area is not in darkness at the same time every second day, and to provide a more detailed description of areas that will be affected.

One of the main concerns raised by residents is that the scheduling has “no variation”, but subjects parts of town to repeated inconvenient blackouts.

“We are condemned to blackouts between 6.30 and 9 pm, while other residents won’t even know that they are load shedding in their areas because it happens while they are at work,” said Lincoln Meade resident Don Crawford.

An irate resident of Hayfields said: “It doesn’t seem that too much thought was put into [the planning of the schedule list]. I find it utterly ridiculous that Hayfields [has] load shedding three times a week between 6.30 pm and 9 pm. How unfair! This is cooking time, homework time and, of course, TV time.”

The general feeling among residents was that they understand and accept the situation, but they believe that the load shedding should be shared equitably. They have asked for a rotational scheduling “every week to afford everybody the opportunity to have an early or late supper”.

Reynie van Huyssteen, also from Lincoln Meade, said residents are unhappy. “We are very unhappy with our share of the load shedding. We all realise that it is necessary, but they need to be fair and everyone should be equally affected.”

Many said the load-shedding programme does not provide clarity on areas affected. Residents said it is confusing and some could not identify their areas on the published list. Mashoko promised a more “clearer and informative schedule”.

Sectors of the Pietermaritzburg business community have expressed serious concerns over the load shedding schedule. CEO of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Andrew Layman, said they are exploring all avenues in order to ensure that the scheduling best addresses the needs and concerns of residents and the business community alike.

Layman said he met with municipal officials on Wednesday, after receiving numerous calls from businesses and residents regarding the load-shedding schedule. Major industrialists in particular felt that the schedule presents certain problems.

Citing one example, Layman said a major engineering firm expressed dissatisfaction with load shedding that occurs between 11 am and 1.30 pm on three weekdays.

Mashoko said the municipality is in talks with the chamber regarding the new schedule. He said one of the difficulties in drafting the schedule is that some businesses requested a constant load shedding schedule, while, on the other hand, residents prefer to have alternating times.

“We will try to accommodate at least 98% of the demands,” he said.

Sports fans have also complained about the weekend schedules. “What about the areas that cannot watch rugby matches on a Friday or Saturday night?” one asked.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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