News / South Africa
Stage 4 load shedding may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many South Africans, having survived brutal extended lockdowns which brought the country’s economy to its knees.
Melville’s Duke’s Burgers owner Ari Shapiro said Eskom’s announcement could have not come at a worse time.
“Stage 4 until Friday is devastating. We have generators, but they have a limited capacity, which means they can only run the lights and a few essential things. Load shedding affects what we can serve – and it is little,” Shapiro said.
“The kitchen can operate, but not at full capacity, meaning items will be taken off the menu due to the generator not being able to run the bigger electrical equipment.”
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Economist Tatenda Zingoni said the announcement of stage 4 load shedding served as a stark reminder South Africa’s electricity woes would be around for longer than thought.
“The opening line of Eskom’s press release speaks to the elephant in the room: constrained generating capacity.
“Now, more than ever, industries require uninterrupted power supply to claw back the lost growth caused by the Covid pandemic.
“These electricity woes do not bode well for investor sentiment towards South Africa,” he said.
Load shedding also did not come cheap to the ailing economy, Zingoni said.
“According to a Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Energy Centre 2019 report, the cost was R700 million per stage per day. If we use that figure as a benchmark, that means we are at about R2.8 billion for stage 4,” he said.
Pretoria resident Kgothatso Molefe said load shedding as a whole was unfair and an inconvenience – especially to paying citizens.
“It is an inconvenience. Eskom has been very incompetent.
“They are picking and choosing their battles and chose to prioritise election day to not have any load shedding but, conveniently, put us through this whole mess of stage 4 before Monday,” she said.
Dale Williams, general manager of the Anti-Social Social Club in Melville, said stage 4 was disruptive to businesses.
“Stage 4 means we have to take out extra money to fuel up the generator and our gas cylinders because our kitchen operates on gas and electricity, meaning only half of our meals can be prepared.
“On top of that, we are in Melville: a power cut in the day is workable but at night it is dangerous because this street is notorious for smash and grabs and pickpocketing.
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“Load shedding puts us at risk when we have to lock up and go home,” Williams said.
Energy consultant Clyde Mallinson said stage 4 meant the country was in a fully-fledged crisis.
“Eskom recently had their performance update and the picture they painted was dire. They looked somewhat defeated in their demeanour,” he said.
“Previously, when they gave updates they seemed upbeat about doing the philosophical maintenance, but the reality is if you have complicated mechanical equipment, you need to realise there are thousands of things that could break.
“There are also four or five key areas which need to be maintained.”
Eskom was doing catch-up maintenance, Mallinson claimed, which was not helping the bigger issue.
“If you do not perform the recommended short and long term maintenance of these systems you can’t catch up.
“If you don’t go to the doctor when you should have, you’re going to find yourself at the specialist. I think it’s dawning on Eskom now that, as they have gone into this catch-up maintenance, they have discovered that many of the organs of the body are actually broken.
“The way we need to solve it is not to scramble and try to plug a gap when we have a shortage. We have to have a concerted national effort to build a new fleet of wind and solar energy,” Mallinson said.