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Stage 6: Eskom is melting my ice making business

Small ice-making business on verge of collapse due to stage 6 load shedding. Picture: Pexels

Small ice-making business on verge of collapse due to stage 6 load shedding. Picture: Pexels

Published Jan 16, 2023


Various parts of the country are in a severe heatwave as sweltering temperatures continue to rise.

This is the time that business people like Mohato Mokoka should be looking to capitalise on the demand for their products. Mokoka owns Mito & Ice, a business that supplies ice to various businesses in Soweto and the greater Johannesburg metro.

The business also rents out mobile fridges for outdoor events.

Load shedding has long hurt Mokoka’s business. Stage 6 loads shedding might be the death knell for his entrepreneurial enterprise. The lack of consistent power supply from Eskom means that production is on a downward spiral.

“In 2017, when we were starting out, we utilised a 450kg ice maker, which give us 110 3kg ice packs in a period of 24 hours. In 2020, with stage 1 and stage 2, we would be able to produce about 90 bags.”

“Stage 6 means that we have about 10 hours of production, which puts us at 40% capacity. So what that means is that what I would normally produce in one day now takes me a week to do. So what that translates to is 10 bags of ice a day,” said Mokoka.

Entrepreneur Mohato Mokoka’s business faces an uncertain future due to load shedding. Picture: Supplied/Facebook

The constant power cuts have resulted in Mokoka being unable to maximise profits during what would be considered peak season in his line of business.

“From September, things start picking up, so by December, you have reached the peak period other than the regular clients you have walk-ins and events you supply”.

“Stage 6 reared its head around November and affected us throughout December. So ice becomes scarce, not because of production or storage. We have five industrial machines, which drop off between 20 and 50 bags in 19 minutes, but because of load shedding, we aren’t able to hit those numbers”.

“To make the matters worse, the constant outages cause damage to our machines because they keep going on and off, and switching them off is not an option because we maximise whatever little time we have when there is power available,” he said.

Mokoka’s inability to meet his supply demands has resulted in the business losing out on deals and some agreements being cancelled. More established business poach their clients, leaving Mokoka with some tough decisions to make.

“I have no choice but to minimise. I need to cut my staff in order to make up for my losses. You lose out on quite a bit, there are people that need to get paid. The machinery we use needs to be paid for, there are overheads that need to be paid,” said Mokoka.

Mokoka does not see his business surviving beyond the next three months if the status quo remains and load shedding persists. He is unable to generate revenue by renting out his mobile fridges. According to Mokoka, they just aren't able to reach optimal temperatures to be able to serve their purpose.

Mokoka’s mobile fridges are not generating any revenue as they cannot reach optimal cold temperatures. Picture: Supplied/Facebook

For Mokoka, the future looks bleak, and he is not optimistic that a resolution to the current power crisis will be reached in the near future.

“The language from Eskom has been the same. They have claimed to be working on the issues for years now, the language from the government has been the same. But personally, I believe that there is no hope,” he said.

The power crisis in South Africa has seen President Cyril Ramaphosa cancel his visit to Switzerland to try to deal with the issue.

Ramaphosa was scheduled to travel to Davos for the World Economic Forum summit, an annual meeting of world leaders, business and civil society.

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