Power cuts hurt Joburg businesses

By Drum Digital
08 December 2014

As power utility Eskom continues its countrywide rolling blackouts as it tries to build up power reserves, Johannesburg businesses are feeling the effects.

Some buy generators to keep going, sell products that do not go off, or simply shut their doors.

"It is not easy for us because we work with freezers. We lose a lot of products in the process," said Dan Ayami from Simply Fish in Emmarentia.

Electricity was not just needed to store the fish in freezers, he said.

"If we don't have electricity, we can't even use machines to cut our fish. Customers come here and leave disappointed because they can't get what they want. With no electricity, there is no business. We are losing money," he said.

Eskom announced on Monday morning that it would implement rolling blackouts until three of its generators are fixed.

Spokesman Andrew Etzinger said it started with stage one power cuts.

Stage one allows for up to 1000MW of the national load to be shed, stage two for up to 2000MW, and stage three for up to 4000MW.

"Three large generators at our power stations are out of service," said Etzinger.

Eskom earlier said supplies at its pump storage power stations had been restored and there would be no blackouts during the week. At the weekend, Eskom and municipalities resorted to stage three power cuts.

Etzinger said the latest power cuts would last most of Monday, and "things should be better" as soon as the generators were back on line.

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, also in Emmarentia, had to turn customers away during power cuts, said manager Keabetswe Motloutsi.

"When there is no electricity we don't meet our targets because normally our first customers come around 1pm. If it [power] goes off around that time and returns in the evening, we don't sell anything," she said, adding that the yoghurt went off.

One of their machines had broken as a result of power disruptions, Motloutsi said.

The Doppio Zero restaurant in Greenside had to cancel bookings for 300 to 400 customers on Friday.

Manager Dean Snyman said although City Power had assured it the area would not be affected, it was.

"We could only serve pizzas and salads," he said.

Snyman said it would be installing a generator "at a massive cost".

Some businesses installed generators a long time ago.

Alastair Bishop, of Jolly Cool in Parkhurst, said the two generators he had bought were helping his business survive.

"We saw that the problem is not going away, so might as well incorporate it into our everyday running. At the moment we are not losing revenue because the generator helps a lot, but it is not an ideal situation," he said.

He said although the diesel they used was an additional expense, businesses would make back the money during power cuts.

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