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Stage 4 load shedding brings more darkness and challenges for Cape business economy

A large part of Durbanville as seen darkened load shedding from a light aircraft flying over the Northern Suburbs last year. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

A large part of Durbanville as seen darkened load shedding from a light aircraft flying over the Northern Suburbs last year. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 10, 2022

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Cape Town - Business, pummelled by the pandemic and increasing fuel prices were dealt another blow by Stage 4 load shedding.

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Jacques Moolman said the situation was not conducive at a time the economy should grow, and further job losses could not be afforded.

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Moolman said it was estimated that R1 billion was lost to economic productivity for each stage of load shedding.

He said the impact varies from business to business, but most have over time adapted to the instability by procuring backup systems, particularly for their equipment in the form of uninterrupted power supply inverters powered by batteries.

“Others who need more power have bought into bigger systems like generators,” he said.

Transport and Public Works MEC Daylin Mitchell said load shedding undermined the ability of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA to keep its commuter services running.

“I was informed that many rail commuters, who are in possession of weekly and monthly tickets, were left stranded at stations all over greater Cape Town and surrounding areas because load shedding had made train scheduling software unstable,” Mitchell said.

He said in order to get to where they needed to be, commuters had to spend time and money to make up for Metrorail’s failure to render a reliable service.

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Metrorail acting spokesperson Nana Zenani said while Eskom’s technical team worked to resolve a problem with its substation, the service was gradually returning as power was restored.

“We are far from full capacity, and the expected load shedding will have an impact on corridor service delivery. We may still have some delays and cancellations,” Zenani said.

Economist, and senior analyst at the Centre for Risk Analysis, Bheki Mahlobo, said the effect of load shedding will have a disastrous impact on businesses.

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“We estimated at the beginning of the year that 5% of Eskom’s generation (around 2 300MW) would be unavailable due to repairs and maintenance at Koeberg, Medupi and Kendal power stations and on a long-term trend, Eskom’s electricity generation capacity has massively decline from 80% in 2011 to current levels at 62%,” Mahlobo said.

He said if one looks at the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) business confidence index, you would see that business confidence has been below its peak in 2006 for over a decade now and showed no signs of recovery.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, said he was grateful that the City’s customers would be protected from one stage of load shedding (during Stage 4).

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“I am also meeting with representatives from the Independent Power Producers sector next week to discuss how we are going to further reduce reliance on Eskom as soon as possible,” Hill-Lewis said.

Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said: “The economic impact of Stage 4 load shedding is of huge concern to the provincial government and there is no doubt that the rolling blackouts are causing havoc for our businesses, restricting investment and slowing economic growth in the Western Cape.”

He said it had been estimated that in 2020 load shedding cost South Africa’s economy R500 million a stage, a day and the Western Cape’s economy R75 million a stage, a day.

Local government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC Anton Bredell said from a disaster management perspective, they have alerted all essential services as well as regional disaster management centres.

“Our focus is to maintain and keep on providing essential services throughout a power disruption. We recommend that backup generators at these services be fuelled and at the ready while we are in a Stage 4 situation,” Bredell said.

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