PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release;
27/03/15
City Leads Load shedding impact discussion

EThekwini Municipality is spearheading an initiative to mitigate the impact that load shedding has on the City and to ensure continuity in the functioning of the City and its economy. The Multilateral Continuity Forum, which had an inaugural roundtable discussion today, Friday, 27 March 2015, is a joint partnership involving business, labour, industry leaders, parastatals and various other stakeholders. A pledge committing the role players to mitigation efforts and business continuity was signed.

EThekwini Mayor, Cllr James Nxumalo said the Municipality welcomed the establishment of the forum, “This proactive partnership will ensure that there is an integrated and collaborated response to the impact that load shedding has on continuity in the City from a social, economic and environmental perspective. The City wants to address this matter holistically and our stakeholders are critical to that process.”

Amongst others, the Multilateral Continuity Forum will identify the areas that require collaboration to minimise the impact of load shedding and agree on the interventions to be implemented, explore the avenues to shield the jobs, create the communication platform between the City and all the stakeholders on matters of load shedding, synchronise the load shedding schedule to support the business activities in the city, plus improve the advance warning and communication thereof.

City Manager Sibusiso Sithole said the Municipality is not exempt from the impact of load shedding. Numerous services are interrupted, productivity is affected, and the proper functioning of the City is at risk. The disruption of electricity supply has severe negative impact on business productivity which threatens the financial sustainability of industry and thus the economy of the city.

Labour was also brought on board to provide their input so that the needs of the workforce are addressed should normal working hours be affected to make up for lost productivity.

The discussion was characterised by frank and robust debate with stakeholders freely expressing their feelings about how the load shedding is affecting their daily lives and business operations.

KZN Growth Coalition’s Andrzej Kiepeila said business is more worried about the impact of what he termed the “unknown”, rather than the implementation of the actual load shedding.

“The City and Eskom must develop a communication strategy that will ensure that all messages from the National War Room to the Province and the City are communicated. Business need to know exactly what is happening so they could plan better.”

Douglas Comrie, representing the manufacturing sector offered some solutions to big business. These include voluntary aggressive reductions in energy usage, voluntary change in shift configurations, and investment in energy generation and related technologies.

Eskom indicated that their aim is to prevent a national blackout and that load shedding is used as a last resort in emergency situations to balance the capacity to provide electricity. EThekwini Electricity announced that a new load shedding schedule designed to lessen the impact on the economy will be implemented from 7 April 2015.

As a way forward Sithole suggested that his office will drive the implementation of the Multilateral Business Continuity Forum which will feed the views and position of eThekwini to the National War Room. This will then open up a platform for engagement and better communication. Other proposals were to drive energy saving more intensely, explore alternative energy sources and implement all demand management strategies and interventions.

Implementation of these interventions in the eThekwini Municipality is critical to ensure that the City can continue to contribute to the economic well-being of the country, jobs are protected and service delivery to communities is not derailed by the load shedding activities.

Ends

Issued by eThekwini Municipality’s Head of Communications, Ms Tozi Mthethwa

For more information contact Municipal Spokesperson Thabo Mofokeng on 031 311 4820 / 082 731 7456 or email Thabo1.Mofokeng@durban.gov.za, or Gugu Mbonambi on 031 311 4855 or 079 751 4986 email: Gugu.Mbonambi@durban.gov.za