Outages: businesses feel the pinch

2008-03-20 00:00

Local businesses have started to feel the effects of Eskom’s emergency load shedding after it resumed on Monday. This is the second load shedding phase after it was halted in February.

Thirty French tourists had to cut short their tour of Butterflies for Africa when load shedding struck at lunchtime yesterday. Manager of Butterflies for Africa, Brett Cooper, said that it was an inconvenience for them to have had the load shedding at lunchtime, "as we have a restaurant and we also had a tour group at that time".

He said that although the shedding did not cause them huge financial loss, if it continues at lunchtime each day, it will have an impact.

Shabnum Ismail of the South African National Blood Service in Pietermaritzburg said that blood banks and clinics have been affected by load shedding, but not too badly.

"The lights have gone off at inconvenient times. However, we are trying to work around the issue. We are doing things manually, but it is our telemarketers who are mostly affected as they have to try and keep in touch with our regular donors to keep the blood supply at a constant level," said Ismail.

Eskom has said that the emergency load shedding is likely to be compounded by the cold, wet weather that is set to increase demand for electricity.

Eskom has announced that pre-emptive load shedding will begin on March 31, if the 10% savings across all sectors of South African society are not reached.

"We are currently using gas turbines to minimise load shedding. Load shedding will continue for the rest of the day until after evening peak. We appeal to all electricity consumers to contribute to save electricity and reduce their demand by 10%," says Erica Johnson, Eskom’s chief officer of networks and customer service.

She said that the risk of load shedding will remain high until today, but no load shedding is expected over the long weekend as demand patterns are historically lower during holidays.

Consumers are urged to treat all electrical installations as live during a power outage.

Load shedding schedules are available at www.witness.co.za or at www.eskom.co.za or through Eskom’s call centre on 08600 375 66.

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