The ongoing power cuts have left businesses — from ice cream shops to banks — and customers frustrated. Sentinel News visited shops at Mainstream Mall in Hout Bay shortly after the scheduled two- hour outage on Friday February 6.
While most businesses in the mall were operating as usual, a row of customers were seen queuing outside Nedbank, half-an-hour after the power had been turned back on. Bill Martin, a Nedbank customer said he was taking the delay in his stride.
‘Their system is apparently still down after the loadshedding. It is a pain, but I guess we were expecting the power outage. I just have to wait and see,” he said. Philip Wessels, group managing executive for retail and business banking at Nedbank, said they were using alternative distribution outlets through Pick n Pay and Boxer Stores, to support clients including small, medium and large enterprises during power outages. “Nedbank branches make use of the ‘buddy branch’ system where the bank redirects clients to the nearest branch that has generator power supply.
There is also a project under way called ‘Branch Call Assistance’ in the event of a branch being unavailable, as a result all incoming calls will also be re-routed to the buddy branches or Nedbank Contact Centre. “Increased security remains a priority for the bank to ensure the safety of both its clients and staff in the event of alarm failures,” he said.
At Addictions ice-cream store, there was no ice cream available. Store keeper Nancy Dubmutshena, said they made very little or no business during loadshedding periods. “When the electricity goes out, I have to put all the ice cream in the display fridges, into the freezer at the back of the store.” The fridge was being repaired when Sentinel News visited there. “Because of the loadshedding, the display freezer does not freeze the ice cream properly any more,” said Ms Dubmutshena. One business which has benefitted slightly since the loadshedding started is that of Zeyn Cassim.
City Cool repairs fridges and Mr Cassim says many fridges have broken because of the power surges. “When the power is turned back on after a loadshedding session, it can cause a voltage surge. This is because all the appliances are turned on at the same time,” he said. But the loadshedding has had its disadvantages for Mr Cassim. “I cannot plan properly and I am running late for my next appointment because I had to wait for the power to go back on before I could fix the fridge,” he said.
Creswell Mbele was turned away when he wanted to buy an ice cream from Addictions. “Oh, I’ll just go without it,” he said. Woolworths said they are prepared for the power cuts. Alex Kuzma, Woolworths’ head Of engineering, said: “Almost all our stores have standby generator power supplies, enabling them to continue to trade despite loadshedding. “We are able to trade, even when the centres in which our stores are located, experience power outages.”
The Cape Chamber of Commerce said the sudden jump between the different loadshedding stages is making it difficult for businesses to plan ahead, and this is undermining their productivity. “We have had two days where stage one blackouts suddenly became stage two blackouts,” said Janine Myburgh, president of the chamber.
“We have also had cases where scheduled loadshedding was not applied.” She said while no one was pleased to see the lights go out, it would be better if the loadshedding was kept at stage two for a full day so that power outages would be more predictable and commerce and industry could plan to work round them. “Phis would also give Eskom more time for essential maintenance work. ”
In a simple office situation you might know that your computers are going to be down for a two-hour period in the morning so you could schedule your staff and other meetings for this down-time. In a workshop or a factory this is even more important.
“A predictable schedule could put employers in a position to change working hours or shifts, introduce an early-closing day or move lunch-breaks into the dead time.” She said there were difficult years ahead for both business and consumers, but there was a willingness to work with the authorities to reduce the impact of load-shedding. “If we have loadshedding schedules that are strictly applied we can work around them and we can all do our bit to keep the economy going.”
The City of Cape Town said it implements loadshedding at the instruction of Eskom. There have also been reports of “nuisance tripping” which often goes unreported due to the assumption that the outage is due to loadshedding. These are general faults which can be confused with loadshedding which sometimes leads to a delay in reaction time. There was such an incident reported in the Suikerbossie area in January.
Mayco member for utility set- ices, Ernest Sonnenberg, said: “The fault occurred between Saturday January 3 and Sunday January 4. “Residents would have been affected between 4.30pm on Saturday January 3 and 2.50pm on Sunday January 4.
The lack of reports from the public suggests that they were under the assumption that the interruptions were due to loadshedding. “Residents supplied by the substations in Empire Avenue, Valley Road, Saddlers Row, Ruyterplaats Drive, Bethal Street, Park Avenue, and Victorskloof Road would have been affected during this window.” Residents who experience an outage at an unscheduled time, or whose electricity suppjy remains off for longer than the period specified in the schedule, should please send an SMS to the City’s technical operations centre on 31220.
The City’s loadshedding schedule can be accessed at www.capetown.gov.za/en/.electricity/Pages/LoadShedding.asp
The queue outside Nedbank half-an-hour after the electricty was turned on. Creswell Mbele could not have his ice cream because of the power outages.
Full Article: Cape Chamber of Commerce » Chamber Releases – Businesses rolling with the blackouts – Dean
Click here to submit your Cape Town News.