durban in the dark
It was NOT business as usual for big and small businesses in certain parts of Durban yesterday due to power cuts that lasted for the whole day in some areas.
Many businesses came to a standstill as a result of a complete power shutdown that made working impossible.
According to a power-cut notice issued by the eThekwini Municipality last week, the cuts were to last only a few hours.
But at some major shopping centres and residential areas such as Overport, power was still not on the way after the stipulated time of reconnection.
At Overport, banks, restaurants and many shops were closed and ATMs were not functioning.
Most shops that were supposed to open at 8am remained closed and workers were asked to remain in the workplace until 10am.
"According to the notice we received, the cut was going to last for three hours. It is now 1pm and the power is still cut off," said one of the shop owners.
An angry Sindi Ngcece, the manager of a popular restaurant, said business had been seriously affected because of the frequent power cuts since the beginning of the month.
She said they appreciated the fact that Eskom had to conduct maintenance of its power stations, but it was worrying because power cuts occurred "now and then".
"What is even worse is that power cuts happen for hours and hours.
"The whole day has been wasted already. It is now going for two in the afternoon and if lights are not back by 2pm we are more likely to close for the day and send workers home," she said.
eThekwini Municipality last week issued a warning about the power cuts, due to start this week.
The warning stated that there would be power cuts because of an increase in electricity demand at the end of the holiday season and the return to normal business.
Routine maintenance to the Koeberg power station - expected to last until late April - would cause more power cuts.
eThekwini Municipality commercial engineering and marketing manager Deena Govender said they were initially cutting power at residential areas and not in commercial establishments, but admitted it could happen due to load-shedding.
"Eskom and eThekwini Electricity encourage all customers to assist in reducing the electricity demand by turning off all non-essential equipment during this time," he said.
He said power cuts were expected to go on and off for two hours in most of the areas in and around Durban.
According to the eThekwini Municipality website, Eskom was experiencing a generation shortage.
Municipalities and some industrial customers have been requested to shed a percentage of their non-critical load.
This was done to prevent instability in the country's electricity network, which could result in uncontrolled blackouts.