The implementation of stage 6 load shedding by Eskom on Tuesday was a sign of more suffering ahead for Msunduzi ratepayers.
Following continued disruptions in power generation which Eskom blamed on striking employees, the utility increased load shedding to stage 6 from Tuesday afternoon.
Eskom said there was a “high risk” that the stage of load shedding may have to change at any time, depending on the state of the power generation plant.
“Three of the 10 generation units that had tripped during the night (Monday) have been returned to service. This, however, is still insufficient to stave off the implementation of stage 6 loadshedding for (Tuesday) evening and (Wednesday). We currently have 3 218MW of planned maintenance, while another 17 621MW of capacity is unavailable due to breakdowns,” it said.
eThekwini confirmed that its residents would not be affected by load shedding. Metro spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said: “Note that the city is currently not participating in load shedding. We are currently hard at work trying to re-configure our system following the recent floods. There are talks, however, that are underway with the power utility and we are meeting them tomorrow (Wednesday)”.
Msunduzi ratepayers not prepared
Meanwhile, Msunduzi ratepayers said they were not prepared for prolonged stage 6 outages.
Chairperson of the Msunduzi Association of Residents, Ratepayers and Civics, Anthony Waldhausen, said they did not believe the Pietermaritzburg municipality would be able to implement a contingency plan for prolonged stage 6 load shedding.
“Currently the municipality is running on crisis management and doesn’t even have a five-year plan to turn things around let alone trying to cope with the load shedding. We are concerned for the many vulnerable people who need electricity for health reasons. Residents would need to plan in advance to ensure they are able to cope as well,” he said.
Waldhausen was also concerned about the impact load shedding would have on the city’s economy.
“It will also place much strain on our already battered economy and affect the long-term recovery.
“It is a disaster that should have been averted years ago.
“Also, the stage 6 load shedding will put added strain on our already poor electricity infrastructure and cause further electricity outages over and above the load shedding,” said Waldhausen.
Other ratepayers took to Facebook to vent their concerns about the impact this could have on their lives and businesses.
Bonnie Jeudwine said: “The knock-on effect in the “bigger scheme” of things is devastating for the majority of ratepayers. I dread to think what emergency and medical services have to do to cope [with the current] electricity situation. I don’t know how we are going to fix this situation, but if we don’t [fix it], there will eventually be a complete grid collapse. There’s no way there is any contingency plan in place in Msunduzi”.
Msunduzi spokesperson Ntobeko Mkhize said their load shedding schedule was in place and catered for stages 1 to 8. “When there is a request from Eskom to implement we have to comply. We urge businesses and residents to check the load shedding schedule and prepare themselves accordingly.”
The Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business said prolonged stage 6 load shedding would be catastrophic for business and disastrous for the economy. “A number of businesses will have to declare short-time and close, you simply cannot, for instance, ramp factories up and down all day,” said chief executive Melanie Veness.
Meanwhile, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) reportedly blamed Eskom for the protests at power stations that ultimately plunged South Africa into stage 4 load shedding late last week.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 that the protests were a direct outcome of what she called Eskom management’s unwillingness to negotiate with organised labour in good faith.
ALSO READ | Eskom implements Stage 6 load shedding
Dr Bhasela Yalezo of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s graduate school of business and leadership said the government had not been very effective in dealing with a number of issues including Eskom. Yalezo said the state was failing to attend and resolve issues that were of national concern.
“If the government cannot resolve the Eskom issue, then the government must allow other stakeholders to get involved in power generation. There is no active and progressive move on the part of the government to deal with the power generation problem.
“To save businesses and jobs there is a need for public/private partnerships that can drive towards healing the economy,” said Yalezo.