Joburg counts the cost of blackout

2013-09-08 09:06


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Johannesburg - Gauteng businesses on Saturday started tallying up the cost of the four-day power blackout that hit large parts of Johannesburg last week.

A Greek restaurant in the west of Johannesburg said it had sustained about R100 000 in losses, while a Spur in the same area said their lost earnings amounted to about R60 000, reported the Sunday Times.

Power was restored in full by mid-day on Saturday after City Power staff unexpectedly downed tools on Wednesday. Alleged sabotage at some sub-stations added to the problems that left about 25 suburbs without power for days.

City Power staff stopped work over a change in their work schedules, which authorities hoped would cut their monthly overtime bill of R213m.

Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau explained that a City Power employee who earned R400 000 per annum was making an additional R1.2m in overtime a year. This, he said, had to be stopped.

Concern about Mandela

Former president Nelson Mandela's home, where a medical facility has been set up for his recuperation since his discharge from hospital on the weekend, was also hit by the electricity interruption, according to a SAPA report.

City Power installed a back-up generator a block from Mandela's house and another generator could be heard from outside the high walls around his home.

DA spokesperson on infrastructure services in Johannesburg Denis Hunt had warned in a statement that City Power's new shift system would result in a decrease in workers' take-home pay.

"The members of the DA sitting in the Section 79 oversight committee have for months drawn attention to the perilously low level of staffing at City Power, in many areas being below the full complement by 50% and more.

Hunt said that the power problems could lead to economic losses in the city.

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