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Nelson Mandela Bay: Residents plead for fair load shedding

WHILE load shedding had been implemented nationwide, residents in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro have expressed their concerns on load shedding after recently being plunged into stage 6.

Disgruntled residents took to social media to complain about the unfairness of load shedding in the metro, amid the confusion of some residential areas in the metro not experiencing load shedding.

This is due to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM) not being able to repair some substations in the metro for years. Some of these areas include Westering, Cotswold, Framesby and Fernglen.

NMBM spokesperson, Kupido Baron, said that the municipality was currently in the process of repairing the substation.

“The Kragga Kamma substation, feeding the mentioned areas, is currently under refurbishment,” Baron said.

However, the target date for completion of the substation is June 2020.

Baron further explained that several areas throughout Port Elizabeth, Uitenhage and Despatch do not experience load shedding.

He said, “This is due to various reasons, which include, but are not limited to, medical centres and hospitals, sewerage systems, prisons, national key points reliant on electricity for their core operations, potable water supply systems, refineries and deep level mines.”

In addition to faulty substations, one in Summerstrand recently burst into flames shortly after the electricity supply was restored during load shedding.

According to Renaldo Gouws, Ward 2 councillor, the substation is right behind a gas station in Second Avenue, Summerstrand, which affected the power supply to the residents. The substation has since been fixed by the municipality.

Baron said the NMBM had also updated the load shedding schedule to stage 8 after Eskom had implemented stage 6 load shedding. He said the municipality’s Electricity and Energy Department had developed schedules 5 to 8 recently, which could be obtained from the municipal website.

Residents also claimed that criminal activities in the metro had rapidly increased since load shedding had been implemented, as thieves were following the schedules and knew which areas’ power was off.

However, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed last week that sabotage at one of Eskom’s power stations was one of the major reasons for the current wave of load shedding that plagued South Africa.

According to Netwerk24, power stations in the country are unreliable and unpredictable, which this is the main reason for Eskom’s decision to implement stage six load shedding last week.

Ramaphosa assured last week that there would be no load shedding from December 17 to January 13.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber issued a statement last week, calling on all industry players to voluntarily shed any load that was not business-critical.

According to the statement, this is to assist the municipality as far as is possible, to meet Eskom’s shedding requirement.

Nomkhita Mona, Business Chamber CEO, said that depending on the cooperation and level of participation in this voluntary shedding, this could go a long way towards reducing the devastating effects of stage 6 to the economy of the Nelson Mandela Bay region.

Mona said, “Businesses and communities are advised to stay alert and keep checking all communication channels of the municipality and the Business Chamber for regular updates on the matter.”

The Business Chamber said they viewed this matter in a very serious light as it was nothing less than a crisis situation.

“This economy cannot afford to lose any jobs, as the region has the highest unemployment rate of all the metros nationwide.

“We hope the region can avert the crisis – at least until the holiday shutdown. This shutdown period would free up some much needed load into the system, thus alleviating the pressure,” Mona added.

In addition, residents are requested to use water sparingly as load shedding puts pressure on the water system in the metro.

According to municipal spokesperson, Mthubanzi Mniki, any water challenges that the municipality might experience were due to load shedding. “Some of our reservoirs might be low, as pumps switch off due to load shedding,” Mniki said.

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