The people and businesses of the Eastern Cape will have to endure the worst of Eskom’s continuous rolling blackouts, as Premier Oscar Mabuyane has made it clear that there is no provincial plan to deal with the loadshedding crisis.
Instead of leading the charge to get the province off the Eskom grid, the Premier has thrown his hands up in the air and made it clear that the province has opted to leave it to their national counterparts to deal with the issue.
His office cannot merely wait for the national government and Eskom to pull us out of this mess. He needs to find private investors and independent power producers (IPPs) willing to work with the province to mitigate the effect of loadshedding.
In response to an oral question in the Legislature yesterday, Premier Mabuyane said there were no interventions planned for loadshedding at a provincial level.
In the Western Cape, municipalities are working hard to develop alternative energy sources and become loadshedding resilient. They are also taking innovative steps, such as putting traffic lights on uninterrupted power supplies in George and Drakenstein.
While it is understood that electricity generation falls under the national framework, it should be noted that the Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Department of Public Works have all presented contingency plans and explained how they are lessening the impact of loadshedding on citizens.
In the Western Cape, all municipalities must report to the Western Cape PDMC regarding the status of their backup systems. They must also ensure that their water and sewage pumps and all emergency services can operate during high loadshedding.
I will write to Premier Mabuyane to demand that he utilise the Eastern Cape’s Provincial Disaster Management Centre to set out a contingency plan. This plan should then be sent to the national government, outlining the effect that loadshedding has on the province and steps the government can take to ease its impact.
The Eastern Cape has the highest unemployment rate in the country. This province cannot afford to have businesses sitting in blackouts. Loadshedding costs our national economy R500 million per stage, per day, which is the equivalent of 3 000 missed job opportunities per stage!
The Premier owes it to the people of the Eastern Cape to at least try and keep the lights on.