Business owners are demanding compensation for the loss of income they’re suffering because of load shedding.
Last week, Eskom announced Stage 6 load shedding, cutting power three times a day, for between two-and-half and four hours at a time.
Mechanic Zaahir Paulse, owner of Zeeline Performance, in Athlone, said that businesses in industrial areas suffered the most.
He said he was losing R5000 a week because load shedding brought work to a standstill, and while some customers understood why their cars took longer to be fixed, others were angry.
He said that generators weren’t a solution for his business because fuel was too expensive to run them.
He complained that the police had not increased their visibility to deter thieves who were taking advantage of the darkness.
“It’s really a lose-lose situation. The middle class will always suffer. What must we do? No matter what we do we will sit in the dark. The cars are piling up and customers are asking when their cars will be done.
“The spares shop’s systems are down so we can’t buy parts. Five days of work has turned into three, and just when you think you can work, load shedding hits again.
“I haven’t installed any alternative power sources because it is too expensive, how will I make that money back? I feel that businesses need to be reimbursed for their losses. Now I have to put more hours in when the lights go on, which means I come home to sleeping children, and I can’t even heat my supper because, again, there’s load shedding.”
Munsoor Badroodien, owner of Settlers Gas and Hardware, in Bonteheuwel, said his computer systems went down during load shedding, and he was unable to use his power tools.
Customers were frustrated and so were business owners as they had bills to pay but no income.
“We have rent, tax, and bills to pay. We have load shedding for two hours at a time. It’s so difficult to work like that. It’s like a full day of work missed. I was thinking of an alternative power source, but going off the grid is so expensive,” he said.
Raeesah Adams, who runs her hair salon from Heideveld, said that she lost about 20 customers each weekend because of load shedding, and she was struggling to pay her bills because of her reduced income.
“We must be compensated because we have rent to pay at the end of the day. Who is going to pay our rent? I cannot wash my customers’ hair with cold water or dry it without electricity. My business relies solely on electricity,” she said.
Athlone police station’s spokeswoman Sergeant Zita Norman said that police were patrolling more frequently because of load shedding.
“Because the area is so big, we have divided our team into the various sectors of Athlone. That is why some business owners might not have seen officers patrolling, but we have increased visibility especially in the load-shedding hours,” she said.