Load shedding has seemingly taken a back seat in the list of concerns for South Africans following the coronavirus outbreak despite regular blackouts over the past few weeks.
Load shedding has seemingly taken a back seat in the list of concerns for South Africans following the coronavirus outbreak despite regular blackouts over the past few weeks.

South Africans more concerned about coronavirus than load shedding

By SAMEER NAIK Time of article published Mar 14, 2020

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Johannesburg - Load shedding has seemingly taken a back seat in the list of concerns for South Africans following the coronavirus outbreak despite regular blackouts over the past few weeks.

“The global coronavirus disaster is preoccupying the mind of people more than load shedding,” said energy expert Professor Hartmut Winkler.

South Africans battled with power outages all week as stage 4 load shedding was implemented due to a faulty pump at Koeberg’s Unit One.

Load shedding is set to continue throughout the weekend. However, embattled power utility Eskom said it would be implemented at stage 2.

South Africans appear to be far less bothered by the power outages .

“I don’t want to play down the horrible impact load shedding is having on the economy and businesses, but a few hours of no power every couple of days seems like a minor inconvenience when you compare it to the sort of daily routines that the people of Wuhan and now Italy have to go through,” said Winkler, a professor at the department of physics at the University of Johannesburg.

“People are sitting isolated at home for weeks and constantly worrying about infections has become the norm.”

Winkler added that load shedding has also become less of a concern for South Africans as they become more accustomed to it.

“South Africans are slowly accepting this as the new reality for the coming few years. They are also becoming better at adapting to the circumstances, and planning their days around the load shedding schedules. I still dread load shedding, especially in the evenings, but like many others I do seem to have partly adapted to it.”

Energy expert Lungile Mashile agreed. “South Africans have been concerned by load shedding, however, less from a technical ‘what’s going on?’ view, to rather the persistent and unpredictable scheduling.

“This week has seen us go from stage 1 to 4 without real explanation. Given the economic recession, coronavirus, stock market crash - people are more focused on these - but they are also aware that the situation at Eskom has exacerbated our downward spiral.”

Mashele believed load shedding should be the country’s biggest concern. “No matter how you look at it, electricity remains at the core of what drives an economy. Our current economic woes cannot be resolved until we have a stable Eskom.

“South Africa has a potential pandemic at hand, which will require additional load for hospitals for ventilators. With erratic electricity supply this places the lives of patients at risk.”

Mashele slammed Eskom for the unpredictability of load shedding. “In January 2020, the CEO announced that for the next 18 months the system would be constrained and we can expect load shedding. What is frustrating is the constant stop and start and unpredictability of the severity of load shedding in a day. Furthermore, when little or conflicting messages are given about the generation fleet, the nuclear fleet, in particular, it creates unnecessary panic.”

Eskom urged South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly, noting it would start implementing stage 2 from 7am today as Koeberg Unit 1 would be synchronised onto the grid a day earlier than expected.

“This will help increase generation capacity and ease the scale of load shedding. We will keep the country informed of further developments.”

Saturday Star

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