More power cuts ahead

2008-01-15 00:00

The Witness received a number of calls yesterday from disgruntled readers who complained of Eskom “not sticking to its load-shedding programme”.

Residents in Ashburton and Lynfield Park told The Witness that their areas experienced two power cuts between 8 am and 4 pm yesterday.

Saras Beemiah, Eskom’s spokeswoman for the Eastern region, said the company finds it hard to stick to the provided programme as everything depends on how much load needs to be shed at that particular time.

However, Phil Mashoko, the strategic executive manager of infrastructure services and facilities at Msunduzi Municipality, said the municipality has managed to stick to its schedule.

“People should not confuse this [load shedding-related power outages] with the power failures that were experienced in some areas due to the storm,” he said.

He said the municipality is working hard to ensure that much-needed information on load

shedding reaches all affected residents.

“We have been in contact with residents’ associations and all our councillors have been informed of what is happening in their areas. We will also be sending out load-shedding schedules with water and electricity bills so that these are available to all our customers,” he said. Mashoko said the municipality has also been in contact with businesses in and around the city in a bid to minimise loss of capital.

Local businessman and director at the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business (PCB), Babu Baijoo, said that while load shedding has impacted negatively on businesses, the impact has been minimal. “The impact has been minimised because businesses were consulted by the city and Eskom and were therefore able to plan ahead,” Baijoo said.

No major disruptions were reported at public and private hospitals around the province yesterday.

Health Department spokesman Chris Maxon said: “No problems have been reported so far as all our hospitals have back-up generators that are used in the event of power cuts”.

Reshnee Beekrum, the client services manager at Medi-Clinic, also said “there were no disruptions from the medical perspective as we used generators”. She, however, added that “other work processes” like administration had to come to a standstill as the hospital back-up generators are only used for medical equipment. “So, yes, it did affect us,” she said.

The Netcare hospital group also reported that its hospitals are equipped with alternative power suppliers, such as petrol or diesel generators.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance announced yesterday that it will be calling for a parliamentary debate on load shedding.

“The recent spate of electricity cuts, euphemistically called ‘load shedding’, is becoming unmanageable for ordinary South Africans, who are bearing the brunt of random, arbitrary and long-lasting power cuts,” said Hendrik Schmidt, the DA spokesman on Minerals and Energy.

He added that the ministers of Minerals and Energy, Public Enterprises and cabinet should be held responsible for the power cuts as Eskom is fully-funded by the state.

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