OPINION: Stage 6 load shedding? We should consider ourselves fortunate we haven’t got to Stage 12. But don’t hedge your bets, we’ve got winter to get through this year – and a whole metastasised ecosystem of tenderpreneurs/SOE saboteurs who aren’t going anywhere soon, especially not during the New Dawn, writes Kevin Ritchie.
WE SLID into Stage 6 load shedding this week at the first hint of a cold snap, with nary a whimper nor a well time by your leave, the likes of which we used to get from the peerless former Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.
But why should Eskom apologise? It’s not like our brand-new Minister of Electricity, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, has any better idea of how to resolve the crisis. After quickly ruling out corruption as a cause to the ageing coal fleet’s ills, he’s come up with the idea of us using less power to prevent power cuts.
We’ve seen this movie before – on an endless rerun since 2007. All that’s changed is the mythical pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow, in this case, the month when all shall be resolved.
But will it ever be resolved? Or maybe it’s part of a cunning strategy by Cyril the Meek to unofficially (and ultimately) privatise the entire grid by creating an artisanal power supply network of companies and individuals with their own solar panels and petrol/diesel generators.
Who knows? But even if we do one day get our power back, will we be able to cope? Anecdotal tales from the roadside suggest not. People have forgotten how to drive with functioning robots when the vagrants and curio sellers aren’t doing point duty at traffic intersections. In fact, motorists have got so used to cutting corners that many jump red lights when the robots are working and there is no oncoming traffic because it’s inconvenient to wait for the lights to change.
Pedestrians are much the same, in fact many have got worse: People on foot have stopped looking either way before crossing the road – and to compound the issue, they invariably have earphones in, listening to their cellphones, leaving them oblivious to their surroundings.
Every Easter, government ministers and officials warn of the dangers of bad driving and then immediately enter an orgy of hand wringing and clothes rending when the fatalities are announced. What is newsworthy is how few people have perished given the seasonal volume on the roads. We can barely drive properly in built-up areas, what chance is there on an open road where the highway code is seen as a suggestion rather than the bare minimum?
Death is obviously not the deterrent most of us would have thought it should be, because people keep dying. They keep taking chances – even when they know the consequences of drunk driving, unroadworthy vehicles, speeding, overloaded buses – and potholes.
What chance is there of our minister of electricity ever fixing the power problem?
Stage 6? We should consider ourselves fortunate we haven’t got to Stage 12. But don’t hedge your bets, we’ve got winter to get through this year – and a whole metastasised ecosystem of tenderpreneurs/SOE saboteurs who aren’t going anywhere soon, especially not during the New Dawn.
Isn’t the true tragedy us looking back at Stage 2 and thinking how lucky we were?
* Kevin Ritchie is a seasoned former newspaper editor and current media consultant. He writes the weekly Carping Point column.