I arrived back in South Africa last Friday after leaving for Sydney at the end of last year. I’ve heard about the power cuts from friends and reading the news, but I never quite understood how bad the situation was.
I’m sitting at Johannesburg International (OR Thambo) waiting to board a flight back to Sydney and to be honest I very worried about the future of the country of my birth.
There are thousands of examples of how the “Load Shedding” is effecting South Africans but one really made realise how bad things are becoming. Before leaving for the airport, I popped down to our local London Pie to pick up some lunch for the family. The shopping centre where the pie shop is located had their power cut due to load shedding. London Pie were therefore unable to accept debit or credit card payments. With no other way of paying I was forced to look for some lunch at the Spar. Spar was lucky enough to have a backup generator.
How many other potential customers were forced to do the same? With load shedding being a daily occurrence, how is the owner of the London Pie expected to run his business?
There is news today that some of the countries largest Gold and Platinum mines were forced to stop operations due to Eskom not being able to guarantee them power. This in turn had negative consequences for the price of gold and platinum. Earlier in the week, I heard how international hockey games hosted in South Africa had to be changed due to load shedding fears. With reports saying that this will continue for years, one can only imagine how the 2010 soccer world cup will be effected.
I’m not sure what the solution is or if there is any light at the end of the tunnel. There are calls for resignations and explanations, but I’m not sure these will help. The problem is not one that can be resolved over night.
It pains me to say that I’m looking forward to getting on the plane this afternoon.
For an idea of how bad the situation is getting visit http://www.newgate.co.za/eskomstories/top10.htm