Statement from the City of Cape Town:
The City of Cape Town has made the decision to approach Eskom for a meeting to urgently discuss their load shedding schedule and its impact on the residents of Cape Town.
Both residents and the City administration have had to endure costs due to load shedding. The City will be calling for an emergency meeting with Eskom to deal with the unacceptable impacts that load shedding is having on the city’s economy.
Eskom’s call to implement load shedding across the country has severely and negatively affected the residents of our city. As the elected leadership, it is our duty to advocate for our residents and engage with Eskom in all possible ways to alleviate the effects of load shedding on the people that live and work in Cape Town.
As an administration that uses all the resources at our disposal to build an economically enabling environment and a city that creates and facilitates opportunities for our residents, the current load shedding demands made by Eskom significantly thwart our efforts to make progress possible for business owners, residents and visitors to our city.
The City of Cape Town recognises that, although the City did not create the crisis, it has to assist Eskom to ensure that the national network does not collapse.
The call for load shedding is out of the City’s hands because Eskom calls for load shedding when they find that electricity generation will not meet the demand. The City is entirely at the mercy of Eskom and sometimes receives notice of load shedding just 20 minutes before it must be implemented.
Load shedding negatively impacts on almost every person currently in our city. The City’s service delivery is impeded by the cuts. Amongst the projects and initiatives affected are the below:
The City has over 600 pump stations, which pump water and sewage within the water and sewer reticulation networks to consumers, in the case of potable water, and to the various wastewater treatment works for treatment in the case of sewage. Disruption of the electrical supply due to Eskom rolling blackouts results in shut down of many water pump stations. This can affect the potable water supply to some areas in the northern, eastern and southern suburbs, as well as sewage pump stations (occasionally resulting in sewage spills.) The City has had to incur further costs by providing back-up generators at the most critical pump stations to reduce the impact of the power cuts.
This time of year sees an increase in fires in informal settlements due to higher temperatures and wind. It is feared that this, coupled with the need for residents to utilise candles and paraffin lamps during times of load shedding, significantly increases the risk of devastating fires in these vulnerable areas.
From 10 December, it is high season for Cape Town’s important informal sector. There is a symbiotic relationship between formal and informal businesses. A threat to the formal businesses therefore also diminishes the foot traffic that the informal sector depends on. In addition, most informal businesses, especially food vendors, do not have back-up systems e.g. generators, nor do they have any form of insurance to cushion them from real losses.
The current load shedding demand from Eskom is affecting application processing and approval of development applications in the Planning and Building Development Management Department. This results in delays for residents and developers.
Load shedding affects the functioning of MyCiTi bus stations. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) at all of our stations are able to supply interim power during load shedding; however, the maximum time that a UPS can carry the load is less than one hour. This allows the staff enough time to prepare and put contingencies in place. We are currently investigating and costing the fitment of generators to our stations.
Load shedding also affects the functioning of our traffic lights. Over the past few years we have been equipping our most important intersections with the UPS system. These are essentially rechargeable battery packs which keep these intersections functioning normally for up to six hours. We currently have about 350 of our approximately 1 500 signalised intersections equipped with the UPS system.
The City’s health facilities are also affected by load shedding. Patient folders take much longer to locate, folders cannot be created in the system, and there is no access to laboratory results electronically. In addition to this, the maintenance of the cold chain is crucial for the quality of vaccines.
Eskom is also ignoring the fact that tourist season, which is critically important to the Cape Town economy, is upon us. Disruption to hotels, restaurants, theatres and other facilities in the evening and on weekends is as important as disruptions to manufacturing during the week. It is thus incorrect to load power cuts into these no longer ‘out of work hours’ periods.
It is regrettable that Eskom has called for load shedding during the school holidays. The City has put in place a number of entertaining and educational programmes for learners at various facilities, which are not able to operate fully. During times of load shedding, library books cannot be issued, our spray parks cannot function as we are not able to switch on pumps and run filtration systems, and public swimming pools water quality is negatively affected.
The City is planning to rotate the load shedding schedule as soon as we have received the necessary approval from Eskom. A draft schedule has been submitted for their consideration. This schedule will be published on the City’s website so that residents have immediate access to the latest information as soon as approval is granted. The City plans to rotate the schedule on a regular basis.
Residents can contact the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089 for more information about load shedding, or visit http://www.capetown.gov.za/en/electricity/Pages/LoadShedding.aspx for an area map and the time schedules for the different stages of load shedding.