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Load shedding killing business

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“They are essentially holding the country hostage. Where do they think businesses will get the money from to weather this crisis?

LOAD shedding has taken its toll on already cash-constrained businesses in Kimberley with many having to close their doors for the duration of the outage.

The CEO of the Northern Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nocci), Sharon Steyn, said yesterday that load shedding is killing business in the city.

“It is really a crisis. Every single business is affected – from dairies to abattoirs, hairdressers, guest house to hotels. Even those businesses that have generators are affected because they now have to pay for diesel to run the generators,” she said.

Steyn added that as a small city, businesses in Kimberley were really battling. “Many are forced to close their doors during load shedding and send their staff home – but they still have to pay them. Businesses are taking a knock, especially as many rely on sales at this time of the year to reach their targets.”

She pointed out that Eskom needed to get its house in order.

“They are essentially holding the country hostage. Where do they think businesses will get the money from to weather this crisis? Many simply cannot continue and there is a general feeling of despondency among business people. They cannot get loans, their trade is affected by the load shedding, they are paying a fortune for rates and services but these are often lacking Kimberley is taking strain and businesses are closing left, right and centre. The people are desperate and the economic effect of the load shedding is, for many, the last straw on the camel’s back.”

Mining has also been affected and Petra Diamonds announced on Monday that it had halted its mining operations after it was requested by Eskom to reduce its electricity usage to Essential Loads Level.

The company said in a statement yesterday that it had received the notification from Eskom on Monday, when the electricity utility moved to an unprecedented Stage 6 load shedding from 6pm.

‘The company has received notification from Eskom requesting that it reduce load to Essential Loads Level, with the result that Petra halted its mining operations in South Africa (Cullinan, Finsch and Koffiefontein),” Petra spokesperson Cathy Malins said.

“Production, hoisting and processing were stopped with immediate effect and the company removed all people from underground, except those required for essential services, with only pumping to prevent flooding and ventilation for safety being allowed.

“Petra will update the market as soon as it receives further notification as to how long the load curtailment will last, and therefore what impact this is likely to have upon the company’s production performance.”

Petra Diamonds is a leading independent diamond mining group and a consistent supplier of gem quality rough diamonds to the international market. The company has a diversified portfolio incorporating interests in three underground producing mines in South Africa (Finsch, Cullinan and Koffiefontein) and one open pit producing mine in Tanzania (Williamson). Petra also conducts a limited exploration programme in Botswana and South Africa.

Meanwhile, Sol Plaatje Municipal spokesperson Thoko Riet has reassured residents that load shedding did not affect the pumping of water, either from Riverton to the city or from the Newton Reservoir to high-lying areas. “These facilities are by-passed during load shedding and are not affected.”

She stated that in terms of the pumping of sewage to the Homevale Waste Water Treatment Works, the two-hour load shedding had minimal impact. “However, four hours of load shedding will have an effect on the line. Fortunately, we have not had any major breaks on our sewerage lines.”

A spokesperson for Lenmed Royal Hospital and Heart Centre confirmed that the hospital had not been affected by the power outages as the hospital is equipped with generators.

No response was received from the Department of Health to media enquiries regarding the effect of the outages on the provision of health services at hospitals and clinics in the Province.

Stage 4 load shedding, which sees two-and-a-half hours rolling blackouts, was announced by Eskom yesterday and was set to continue until 11pm last night.

Eskom has warned that cuts were likely to continue for the rest of the week as it battles severe capacity constraints caused by unplanned outages and flooding.

The need for load shedding was said to be the result of a shortage of capacity with a number of generating units still out of service due to breakdowns.

“While progress has been made with coal handling at Medupi Power Station, breakdowns were at 15 200MW as at 5.43am yesterday morning. The incessant rains continue to impact coal handling and operations at our power stations. The probability for load shedding remains high for the rest of the week,” the power utility warned.

“We remind customers that load shedding at Stage 4 is no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled. Load shedding is a responsible act and highly controlled process, implemented to protect the country from a national blackout. During Stage 4, 4 000MW is rotationally load shed nationally at a given period. Even during this stage, approximately 80% of the country’s demand is still being met.”