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Businesses say Stage 6 load shedding is making it difficult to survive

A grocery store powered by a generator during load shedding.

File Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 6, 2023


Durban – Business owners are feeling the impact of high levels of load shedding, saying this has placed a strain on them as they raised concerns over the Eskom announcement that Stage 6 load shedding would be implemented until further notice.

Jeannie Sarno, owner of Burnham House B&B in uMhlanga, said the impact of Stage 6 load shedding was catastrophic and crippling to residents and business.

“This is especially the case with bed and breakfasts and guest houses where guests do not want to be impacted by the interruptions while they are on holiday, but mostly when they are working.”

Sarno said if there was a reliable schedule, then businesses could work around the scheduled times, but the unpredictability of stages meant plans were made at the last minute.

“It is a domino effect from the time the power goes off, all the traffic lights in that area go off, traffic builds up and if one hasn’t taken this into account, then they are late for meetings or appointments. How can a business manage to work to its optimum capacity when there is consistent interruption, and I speak for the everyday average business owner who does not have the means to buy generators or panels?”

Melanie Veness, CEO of the Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business, said that Stage 6 load shedding was destroying businesses and the economy.

“If we have to endure it for much longer then I can assure you that more jobs will be lost. All businesses are severely impacted. Most small businesses don’t have generators, so can’t function at all during load shedding. It’s extremely disruptive when it’s happening every couple of hours.”

Veness said that industrialists, who employ large numbers of people, are strongly impacted.

“You can’t ramp factories up and down every few hours. Some of them take eight hours to ramp up, so they may as well just close when there’s Stage 6 load shedding. The difficult thing for Pietermaritzburg industry is that it is so embedded in the network that it’s difficult to try to spare industry the ravages of load shedding.”

Thigam Nathoo, of the SA Hospitality Institute in KZN, said they were able to work around two hours of load shedding a day, but Stage 6 was problematic.

“Stage 2 and 3 load shedding is difficult as most of our staff require power for computers and the internet, we have ingredients in our fridges and freezers for practical lessons and run the risk that they will spoil.”

Nathoo said Stage 4 load shedding and higher meant she could not buy perishable items in large quantities.

“Our inverter doesn’t cope because it doesn’t have time to charge sufficiently before the next power outage.”

Nova-May Challinor, owner of Caladdi Bed and Breakfast in the KZN Midlands, said load shedding has had a severe impact on her business.

“I am finding more and more guests expect you to have a back-up solution in place. We have gone the simple route for now by installing a small generator that’s hooked into the main DB board which powers up the lights, our pressure pump for water and our gas geysers. It’s tough owning a business in these times.”