Residents in the dark

2019-02-27 06:01

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LACK of clarity about the load shedding times has left many Msunduzi residents frustrated as they have sometimes been left without power when Eskom was supposedly not shedding.

However, the confusion is not yet over as the City has not yet updated its schedule, more than a week after Eskom first called for Stage 4 load shedding.

Msunduzi residents have been calling The Witness for scheduled times for their areas. They claimed their attempts to get an updated schedule from the municipality had failed.

“I honestly don’t know when we should or should not be load shedding. We are hearing things like Stage 5 to Stage 8 in the media but we don’t even know what that means or how it will affect us. The people at the call centre seem to be just as clueless,” said Liv Nel from Pelham.

Melissa Reddy, who lives on Prince Alfred Street, said she could not plan her afternoons if she did not know what time her power would be turned off.

She said one day last week she was without power in the morning for two hours and in the evening her lights went off again.

“I read in The Witness that they would be distributing the load so that no area should be without electricity for more than two hours, but it happened to us on Sunday,” she said.

Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Ngcobo said the City was still using the previously circulated schedule because an updated one — with Stage 1 to Stage 8 plans — had not been finalised.

“The municipality is having continuous meetings with Eskom in order to extend the load shedding schedule to accommodate stages up to Stage 8,” she said.

She said as the stage level increased, the percentage of power required to be shed also increased. She said the time frames for these would be indicated on the schedules, which have not yet been finalised.

Ngcobo blamed ordinary faults for cases where consumers experienced outages when Eskom had not instructed the City to load shed.

She said Msunduzi would be having continuous discussions with the business community to accommodate their situation.

Last week The Witness reported that Msunduzi was trying to meet business halfway as some factories were losing a lot of production time as a result of load shedding. Their machinery had to be powered down an hour before the municipality shed the load, then required another hour to power up when electricity came back on.

These businesses have offered to reduce the strain they placed on the grid without having to completely stop production.

“There are ‘critical’ loads that the municipality can avoid to load shed, but all business and even government institutions must have back-up/standby generators as per NRS (National Rationalised Standards) documents,” said Ngcobo.

On how consumers could protect their appliances from damage, she said they must switch them off during load shedding and switch them back on once the power is restored.

“It is standard practice now that new installations must have surge arrestors installed in their distribution boxes to protect appliances.”

She said it was also recommended that people in older properties get surge arrestors, which must be installed by a qualified registered electrical contractor. She said consumers could also help Eskom save electricity by switching off pool pumps, geysers and any unnecessary loads during peak times, in the mornings and evenings.

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