The first implementation of stage 4 load shedding by Eskom yesterday triggered a chorus of dismay and frustration.

DURBAN - The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed the government’s plans to unbundle the power utility Eskom into three state entities. The announcement that the power utility would be split into three entities for generation, transmission and distribution was made by President Cyril Ramaphosa at last week’s State of the Nation Address.

On Wednesday, the unbundling of Eskom was the subject of a national strike by trade union Cosatu. The trade union is opposed to the unbundling of the power utility, privatisation of the entity and is also against looming retrenchments.

Musa Makhunga, the president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said business was encouraged by the plans at Eskom and viewed the unbundling as “a step in the right direction”.

“However, the Durban Chamber requests that the government introduce and act on immediate short-term plans that will help alleviate the effects of the current round of load shedding as rating agency Moody's Investors Service indicated that ‘Eskom remained a significant risk to the country’s fiscal strength’,” said Makhunga.

However, Makhunga said the business community could ill afford load shedding. Since Monday, South Africa has been experiencing Stage 3 and Stage 4 load shedding.

“The Durban Chamber strongly believes that load shedding will have a significant disruptive effect on the local and regional economy bearing in mind that Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as a whole is host to some of the country’s largest manufacturers.

“Durban and South Africa cannot afford load shedding as it has a severe socio-economic impact across key industry sectors resulting in loss of productivity which will inevitably lead to revenue losses across industries and their value chains.

“This can negatively impact jobs and economic growth. Additionally, it can cause other risks and threats to businesses such as equipment damage and project delays which can have lasting medium and long-term implications,” said Makhunga.

Makhunga said load shedding had a negative impact on the perception of South Africa as a viable investment destination.

Sunday Tribune