CAPE TOWN – Eskom having once again plunged the country into continued darkness has upset various sectors of the economy, including young adults who have embarked on writing their final matric exams.
The power utility on Wednesday announced that Stage 4 load shedding would be implemented until 5am on Friday, thereafter Stage 2 load shedding would continue until Saturday.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said the situation was unacceptable and came at a critical time for learners in the province.
“This is a total disgrace. Our learners have gone through so much with Covid-19, and now they have to worry about load shedding on top of trying to study for their matric exams.”
A total of 63 000 learners on Wednesday wrote English Paper 1.
Schäfer said that, fortunately, there were no disruptions during the exam, and officials were on standby to assist schools and candidates with any problems that may arise.
Athlone Grade12 learner Niyaaz Wagner said although they were not affected by electricity outages on Wednesday, it would still affect them while studying.
“We need to study and many of us use the internet to watch online educational videos to help us.
“Our parents now have to fork out data which is just as expensive and when you are not working it impacts you heavily,” said Wagner.
In a statement, Eskom said: “Over the past 24 hours, a unit each at Medupi, Kusile and Matla power stations tripped while a unit each at Lethabo and Arnot power stations was forced to shut down. This constrained the power system further, requiring extensive use of emergency reserves and therefore hampering the recovery of the reserves.”
Small businesses are also up in arms.
Hair salon manager Levona Silver said they had been negatively affected by load shedding since last week.
“Our day-to-day operations are dependent on electricity. We have been affected very negatively and have run financial losses as a result of this.
“We have had to turn clients away after they made appointments because of the sudden load shedding announcements.
“We have really been struggling to keep afloat with the effects of load shedding and thise of Covid-19, where our industry has already suffered,” said Silver.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier said it is estimated that in 2020 load shedding cost South Africa’s economy R500 million per stage, per day, and the Western Cape’s economy R75 million per stage, per day.
“This means that this latest Stage 4 Load-shedding is estimated to cost our provincial economy a whopping R300 million per day.
“This is a devastating blow to businesses in the Western Cape, which are already hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the restrictions placed on the economy.”
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