'Grave concern' over stress added to matric exams by load shedding
In a surprise move yesterday Eskom rolled out Stage 2 load shedding at 9am, which coincided with the start of the matric exams.
The roll out affected matrics at 30 schools across the province, who had to wait for the power to return before they could continue with their computer applications technology (CAT) exams.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said despite various contingency measures and assurances from Eskom as recently as Tuesday, they were unfortunately informed at the last minute about the load shedding.
“Our exams team immediately liaised with the various district offices to inform them of the warning of load shedding and requested that existing protocols for electricity shortages during the CAT exam be put in place.
“These protocols include ensuring that no pupil leaves the exams venue should the electricity cut out, and that they are instead quarantined until electricity resumes and technical assistance is provided,” said Hammond.
Today 939 pupils are registered to write the information technology exams at 83 centres.
Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said Stage 2 load shedding would continue today.
“Due to a shortage of capacity we had to roll out Stage 2 load shedding.
“The system remains constrained. We will have a better picture of what will happen this weekend, after today,” Mothae said.
Eskom said the supply constraint was caused by, among others things, five generating units being unavailable due to boiler tube leaks.
A conveyor belt supplying Medupi Power Station with coal also failed on Saturday. Mayoral committee member for energy and climate change Phindile Maxiti said City-supplied customers were affected by Stage 1 load shedding and not Stage 2.
“The City is able to assist this week to soften the impact from Eskom’s load shedding on City-supplied customers due to spare generation capacity from the Steenbras Hydro-electric Power Scheme,” said Maxiti.
Chairperson for the National Assembly committee on basic education Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said they noted with “grave concern” the load shedding announcement.
“When something like this happens and the examination must be halted, only to be continued when the electricity supply is restored, it can add to more stress.”
Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Geoff Jacobs said yesterday’s notice was “guaranteed to provoke an extremely negative reaction from the business community”.
“Business needs one thing: certainty, and if a country cannot provide certainty of power supply, we suffer in all kinds of ways,” said Jacobs.
Consumers are advised to check their load shedding schedules on the Eskom website.