Load-shedding disaster for local businesses
Lowveld Media, however, spends on average between R14 000 and R15 000 on diesel every day to run the generator during load-shedding. The company spends R1 750 an hour on diesel, a massive cost in the face of the economic climate.
MBOMBELA - Businesses large and small across the Lowveld are suffering greatly due to the recent onslaught of blackouts across the country.
Not only is load-shedding disastrous for businesses, it also affects water supplies and traffic on major intersections, and poses a massive security risk to companies, including farmers and entrepreneurs in rural areas.
This is according to the Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism’s (KLCBT) Linda Grimbeek.
She said when the electricity is down, this can affect security systems as well as the flow of water into water pipes and reservoirs, thereby disrupting supply to some areas and causing security alerts to not work properly.
“It has been very difficult for people. Especially when stage 6 is implemented, businesses are guaranteed to be off for at least half of the work day, and that is not taking into account doing business with other companies who are on different electricity grids.
“It is almost the same as being completely shut down,” she said.
The owner of the local restaurant Feast, Michelle Erasmus, said the effects of load-shedding on her business had been bittersweet.
“Increasingly, clients use our restaurant as a co-working space during load-shedding. Load-shedding is destructive for businesses. We spend a substantial amount on diesel for the generator. In this environment it would be easier to just have a informal grill under the tree,” she said.
Dalene Willemse, the owner of Bazaruto, said load-shedding had been a disaster for her eatery.
“We are losing business. We have a generator that operates off batteries, but they don’t last for four hours,” she said. “It costs us more to run a generator the whole day than to close.
“It is affecting staff as well. They don’t get paid if we have to close, and if this loadshedding continues as it is, we might have to close.”
She said the restaurant employs 24 people.
Curry Crush’s Shaitesh Patel said the restaurant does not use a generator. “It is a big problem for us. I think Eskom needs to relook at the times they implement loadshedding.”
He said the restaurant employs seven people.
Hamid Chafai of the Moroccan Barber at the Courtside Centre said it spends around R400 on fuel for the generator each day. “The load-shedding is very bad and really affecting the business,” he said. “We are losing between 30% to 40% of our income because of this. The generator does help but it is expensive.”
Meanwhile, at the Nelacres Shopping Centre, Bondipix’s Desmond Drennen said the schedule was affecting production and delivery of items.
“We have generators and inverters, but they do not produce enough power for manufacturing. There are 45 people operating the machines in the factory, but because of the load-shedding, only eight can work right now,” he said.
“It is really killing us. We are having to fill up 25 litres every second day. It is a complete disaster. We are helping to supply some of the stores around us with power like the barbershop next door, because we know how tough things are without electricity.”
Nelacres Laundry’s Ntsiki Ngwenya said they do not have a generator and are having to work an extra hour and a half to finish clients’ laundry in time.
And while smaller businesses are suffering, bigger companies such as i’langa Mall and even Lowveld Media are also finding the situation difficult. i’langa Mall’s Henri Gouws said amid all the challenges, the mall's team is on the highest alert to maintain its optimal performance.
“Over 70% of the mall’s stores are open during load-shedding, including anchor stores, all restaurants, pharmacies, SterKinekor and The Ice Rink,” he said.
Some businesses and centres, however, are unaffected by load-shedding.
For instance, Crossing Shopping Centre’s power is fed by the same line as the power to Rob Ferreira Hospital, and therefore it is not affected by load-shedding. The same can be said for Hoërskool Nelspruit.
However, KLCBT’s Grimbeek said there are some solutions to certain issues coming to the fore, particularly the rolling out of a projects called “adopt a traffic light”.
“The KLCBT was approached by the
City of Mbombela to see if businesses at the major intersections would be willing to connect the traffic lights to the generators. The City will do the installations. The traffic lights really do not take a lot of power, so at least there won’t be major backlogs in traffic, and emergency services and the police can get through intersections and get to where they need to be,” she said.
With Covid, there was a Covid relief fund, with which people who were affected with income were helped to buy food. Why can't there be a load-shedding relief fund with which they help small businesses during load-shedding to make up for loss of income, or better yet, to take that R500b that was given as the Covid relief fund and repair the electrical infrastructure?
I don't think you really want to know people's honest opinion about Eskom/ load-shedding. This country is slowly on its way to being worse off than Zimbabwe.
If you wanted to emigrate to another country, it's not too late. Businesses are already suffering as it is, and small to medium enterprises will not make it if it carries on like this.
The average class people like myself simply rely on the small convenient stores for a quick bread and milk. I guess we should be asking ourselves how we can help Eskom?
What can our generation do to prevent load-shedding from happening? Maar in plain Afrikaans, ons (die mense) is gatvol vir load-shedding.