'We can't transfer you for comment on load shedding, due to load shedding' | Fin24
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'We can't transfer you for comment on load shedding, due to load shedding'

Feb 12 2019 19:31
Carin Smith

The extent to which load shedding is impacting not only individual consumers in South Africa, but also the business sector, became clear during an informal survey done by Fin24 on Tuesday.

A call centre operator at Builders Warehouse said since Eskom started load shedding on Sunday, the hardware giant was receiving more calls nationwide from consumers wanting to buy generators.

A mixed bag

Contact with various branches of retailer Game delivered mixed results. The manager of a store in Bloemfontein said she was not able to comment to media and referred Fin24 to the head office in Durban. But when Fin24 called retailer Game's head office for comment, the receptionist said she was unable to transfer the call to the communications department due to load shedding.

"Try again in an hour," she suggested.

When calling the Game store in Welkom in the Free State for comment, the floor manager told Fin24 to please speak loudly since the generator - on due to load shedding - was making so much noise she could not hear what was being said on the phone.

She also said customers were coming in to buy generators and rechargeable lights.

Only Limpopo seemed relatively untouched. The manager of a Game store in that province told Fin24 that so far there had been little difference in consumer behaviour since the onset of load shedding. "Our customers still just come in for bread and eggs," she said.

'Really impacts our sales'

An employee at Verimark in Table View, Cape Town, told Fin24 that load shedding was making a big impact on the store's ability to trade.

During load shedding the signal of the credit card machines disappears, making it impossible for card purchases.

"People do not carry around a lot of cash with them, so not being able to pay by credit card in the store really impacts our sales," he said.

A floor manager at Game in Soweto told Fin24 customers were coming in looking for rechargeable lamps and gas stoves. The same trend is evident at Builders Warehouse in Cape Gate, Cape Town.

"People are buying generators, emergency lights...even torches," a floor manager at Cape Gate told Fin24.

Six-hour wait for one email

The manager of Point Building Supplies & Hardware in Zonnebloem, Cape Town, told Fin24 that when there is load shedding, his customers in the building trade cannot really do their work.

Furthermore, he had to spend six hours in the Cape Town harbour on Monday waiting for an order to come through.

Due to load shedding, an email could not be sent from Durban, where the order originated, in order to process the delivery in Cape Town.

Meanwhile, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Fin24 that Eskom's current load shedding will have a significant disruptive effect on the local and regional economy.

Musa Makhunga, president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that Durban and KwaZulu-Natal as a whole is host to some of SA's largest manufacturers.

"Durban and South Africa cannot afford load shedding as it has a severe socio-economic impact across key industry sectors resulting in loss of productivity which will inevitably lead to revenue losses across industries and their value chains. This can negatively impact jobs and economic growth," said Makhunga.

"Additionally, it can cause other risks and threats to businesses such as equipment damage and project delays, which can have lasting medium- and long-term implications. Moreover, load shedding has a negative impact on the perception of SA as a viable investment destination that can significantly influence the country's projected economic growth plans as well as opportunity and job creation."

The Durban Chamber is encouraged by the government's medium- to long-term plan to split Eskom into three separate entities – generation, transmission and distribution – and views this as a step in the right direction.

However, the chamber requests that the government introduces and act on immediate short-term plans that will help alleviate the effects of the current round of load shedding as rating agency Moody's Investors Service indicated that "Eskom remained a significant risk to the country's fiscal strength".

The Durban Chamber urges businesses to ensure that contingency plans are in place and that they are well equipped to maintain their productivity levels, especially for plants which run 24-hour production cycles and construction sites that run high powered equipment.

eskom  |  game  |  sa economy  |  load shedding


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