Durban - Businesses and residents needed to be given a clear timetable and action plan about how the country’s power crisis is going to be solved.
This is according to Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Palesa Phili, who was commenting on the impact of the rolling blackouts on the economy.
She said load shedding was having severe negative economic effects on all electricity consumers, including the manufacturing sector.
She said there was an urgent need for the government to immediately action real change at the national utility provider.
“As we head into the festive season, a greater level of understanding of the impact of load shedding will need to be demonstrated by Eskom if the faith of the business community and electricity users is to be restored.
“To date the action taken and progress made to revamp the state-owned entity has been too slow to be meaningful,” she said.
“The government needs to urgently work with the organised business community to solve the challenges at Eskom and to plot a route forward towards stable, dependable energy provision that will enable sustainable economic development,” she said.
Eskom reverted to Stage 4 load shedding from Stage 6 on Monday as it said progress had been made with coal handling at the Medupi power station.
“The incessant rains continue to affect coal handling and operations at power stations. We remind customers that Stage 4 is no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled,” Eskom said.
The power utility said that even with Stage 4 load shedding, approximately 80% of the country’s energy demand was still being met.
Durban guest house owner Janus Horn said he was without electricity for 16 hours on Monday.
“I am fortunate that I have a big generator. What about those who don’t have generators, what are they doing? The sad thing is that this affects our profits and in turn affects our staff bonuses,” he said.
Metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said they were attending to the issue of non-functioning traffic lights at intersections as fast as they could.
“We have a plan in place and are following the schedule as closely as we can,” he said.
Cellular networks have also been affected.
MTN’s Jacqui O’Sullivan said that while the majority of MTN’s sites had been equipped with battery back-up systems, the frequency of load shedding was resulting in batteries not having enough time to recharge.
Ilembe Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Tourism chief executive Cobus Oelofse said load shedding had exacerbated an already challenging economic environment for businesses across the iLembe District.
“It is especially smaller and hospitality-focused businesses that struggled to cope, with a number of establishments reporting that visitors had left early because of the load shedding. Where stand-by generators are in place, the cost of running these for extended periods is putting a damper on the convenience,” he said.
Meanwhile a Chesterville clinic caught alight allegedly due to an electrical fault that occurred after power was restored after load shedding on Monday.
Two offices were burnt however there was no damage to patient files and medication.
Residents who live near the clinic were told to use the other clinics in the area.