Cape Town - 141102 - Rolling blackouts due to Eskom's power grid being under severe strain resulted in the Cape Argus Newsroom being left without power and the production team having to relocate temporarily to Allied Media in Epping. Picture: David Ritchie
Cape Town - 141102 - Rolling blackouts due to Eskom's power grid being under severe strain resulted in the Cape Argus Newsroom being left without power and the production team having to relocate temporarily to Allied Media in Epping. Picture: David Ritchie

Calls for emergency meeting with Eskom

By Time of article published Dec 9, 2014

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Cape Town - Frustrated by the mounting costs to residents and “unacceptable” impact on the economy, the City of Cape Town has called for an emergency meeting with Eskom about its load-shedding schedule.

“Load shedding negatively impacts on almost every person currently in our city. (We) are entirely at the mercy of Eskom and sometimes receive notice of load shedding just 20 minutes before it must be implemented,” said Ian Neilson, as the acting executive mayor.

He said the blackouts had significant impacts on the city’s service delivery - affecting everything from development planning applications and the informal business sector to information boards at the MyCiTi bus stops and traffic lights.

The current load shedding demands “significantly thwarted” the city’s efforts to create a climate conducive to business and tourism.

Neilson said the city wanted to rotate the load shedding schedule to mitigate the impact on residents and businesses.

“The City of Cape Town recognises that, although the city did not create the crisis, it has to assist Eskom to ensure that the national network does not collapse.”

Neilson said many of its 600 water pump stations had been forced to shut down because of disruptions to electricity supply.

This affected potable water supply to several areas, and also had a knock-on effect for sewage pump stations.

“The city has had to incur further costs by providing back-up generators at the most critical pump stations to reduce the impact of the power cuts.”

The informal sector will be hard hit by load shedding from Wednesday - the start of the high season. Most of these industries, such as food vendors, do not have generators or back-up systems. They also lacked the insurance needed to cushion them from the loss of income during this period.

The city’s planning department was struggling to keep up with development applications because of the load shedding, causing costly delays for residents and developers.

Neilson said load shedding also affected health facilities as it was no longer possible to access laboratory results electronically.

“Eskom is also ignoring the fact that tourist season, which is critically important to the Cape Town economy, is upon us. Disruption to hotels, restaurants, theatres and other facilities in the evening and on weekends is as important as disruptions to manufacturing during the week. It is thus incorrect to load power cuts into these no longer ‘out of work hours’ periods.”

Meanwhile, on Monday Eskom said the

country was not experiencing a power supply crisis.

“There is no crisis at Eskom. I think the way Eskom gets reported on creates the perception of a crisis,” chief executive Tshediso Matona told reporters in Joburg.

Matona said the power utility needed financial stability and additional power to make sure electricity supply was reliable.

“We sell electricity below cost compared to other countries. We have spoken about this before… It is a matter of policy implementation, which we do not do ourselves.”

Eskom did not anticipate implementing its stage 3 schedule of rolling blackouts again this month, he said.

“We will probably not go into stage 3 from this difficult patch, but that will rely on additional power capacity going forward,” Matona said.

Stage one allows for up to 1 000MW of the national load to be shed, stage 2 for up to 2 000MW and stage 3 for up to 4 000MW.

Matona earlier apologised for recent power blackouts.

“The events were completely unexpected, especially on Thursday and Friday.”

Stage 2 blackouts went into action on Thursday and stage 3 on Friday.

Eskom was doing everything possible to manage the outages, Matona said.

“It really pains us to have to load shed. We know the public is not pleased.”

He said a complete blackout would spell disaster for the country.

“We load shed out of responsibility… A complete blackout would be catastrophic and can take weeks to recover from.”

He said the power system would remain tight until the Medupi and Kusile power stations started producing power, probably in 12 to 18 months.

Medupi was expected to be online by December 24.

“We may not meet the target, and could see Medupi coming online in early January.

“We expect to see full power production from Medupi within six months thereafter.”

Work on getting the Majuba station in Mpumalanga to full capacity was continuing.

Cape Argus

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