Fairer load shedding

2008-04-07 00:00

LAST week’s load-shedding arrangements were clearly poorly thought out as to

their implications, and therefore were inequitable. It is unreasonable that some domestic users should have been powerless between 6.30 pm and 9 pm three nights a week, depriving them of television and upsetting their arrangements for the evening meal, while others were cut off in the middle of the day when many were at work and suffered little inconvenience.

Why should some businesses have been disrupted at peak trading or manufacturing times while others were not? And it was outrageous that residents of communal developments should have had their security removed, and those who live in high-rise buildings were required to climb up or down many flights of stairs in pitch darkness three times a week.

As is now clear, South Africa is in this for the long haul, five years at least. Surviving without electricity is going to become a regular feature of our daily life, and things are probably going to get worse as winter approaches.

It is therefore vital that the burden of load shedding falls as evenly as possible on everyone, both business and domestic users. In order for this to happen, any schedule of outages simply must be rotational in nature so that the cuts fall at different times every day and every week.

It is vital, too, that there be close co-operation between Eskom and business so as to minimise damage to the economy. Similarly, there must be co-operation between management and the unions. Not every business can afford a generator or the cost of running it, so constructive use must be made of down times.

Also, it's to be hoped that Eskom and the government are fully galvanised to rectify the situation. While there may have been good reason for the Department of Minerals and Energy to cancel its contract with the AES consortium to build two open-cycle gas turbines, time is very much of the essence.

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