Load-shedding causing more damage than we’re aware of
When there is load-shedding, we all think it is just a switch off of electricity, to be switched back on two hours later and voila, life goes back to normal.
This is how we, as ordinary people, experience lights off from Eskom.
Unfortunately, there is much more to it than that.
Everything relies on electricity.
Many government departments sit in the dark when the electricity is off as many do not have generators and those that have, do not have ones that are powerful enough to restore full functionality.
So if you have travelled from many of our outlying areas to Komani to get services but there is loadshedding, you have to wait for the power to come back on.
And sometimes even when the power is back on the systems malfunction and you have to go back home without accessing the services you came for.
I will focus on two sectors to illustrate the devastating effect load-shedding is continuing to have.
Let’s consider hospitals and all other health facilities first.
At present, there are no feasible systems in place to exempt these facilities from load-shedding even though everyone admits that to switch them off even for one minute can be catastrophic.
The explanations many municipalities give for this is that the hospitals are embedded on the grid of the surrounding suburbs, making it impossible to isolate them during load-shedding.
A while ago, the Limpopo health department announced it had suspended all elective surgeries because of the erratic power supply issues.
Imagine the very bad consequences for someone who has been waiting for months to have a hip replacement but now has to wait even longer for the surgery, sentencing that person to further agony for an indefinite period of time.
The second sector, sanitation, includes sewerage works and water provision, which are totally reliant on electricity to work.
Who knows what kind of damage is done when sewerage and water systems grind to a complete stop?
According to a recent survey in SA, 1.1 million litres of water is lost through leaks every year. Leornado Manus, the deepartment of water and sanitation acting deputy director of regulations compliance, mentioned that one municipality wanted an extra 40% increase in its water allocation, when in effect it lost 65% of its water through leaks.
This means 65l of 100l of water supplied to the municipality is lost to leaks, never making it to customers.
This is the situation in most municipalities around the country.
What has that got to do with load-shedding, you ask?
We depend on electricity to push water around, so when it is off, that means no water is pushed and air pockets may develop in the system.
When the electricity comes back on, that air gets pressurised and causes damage to the ageing water infrastructure, causing burst pipes all around.
While we may bemoan the electricity situation, many other sectors are being affected and we may not even be aware of it.
This makes this the most important issue of our time and the ANC government may pay the price for it come 2024 unless something dramatic happens within the next year or so.
However, that is the story for another day.
Let me file this before load-shedding hits.