Monday, 8 December 2014

Climbing On The Fed Up Bus With All The Other Whino's

Every single person is complaining about load shedding and I just have to climb on that bus too. It does irritate me when people go on about how good it was pre-1994, because it really was not. People have selective memory if they believe it was so great back then. The movie, Long Walk To Freedom was a reminder that pre-1994 was only great for a VERY select few. However, 20 years later and we are not progressing. The water crises in some areas and the electricity crises across the country has just gone beyond a joke. Having no power and power cuts is not new, I have lived in this area since 1984, left for a couple of years and moved back, and even then in the '80's we would have plenty of power cuts - not load shedding, just no power. Call it what you like - no electricity is no electricity.

On Friday someone tweeted "rather a couple of hours of no electricity than full black out for weeks on end" and that is when it really hit me as to how we have just settled for far less than we deserve. The economy is in a bad state as it is, people are struggling to make ends meet, the cost of electricity is ridiculously high and then small to medium businesses who rely on electricity to make a living have to just shut their doors for four hours every single day. Well from Friday, but who knows when it will stop. Then four hours was not enough so they added another thirty minutes on Sunday. Our load shedding times are 14h00 to 18h00, Sunday it was until 18h30. The weekends are a Restaurants busiest times.  It is fun at work when you have no electricity and just hang around doing nothing, until you are the stressed out business owner who loses not only his income for the four hours, but all of his stock. How many businesses are going to end up closing down, because from Friday afternoon they could not trade. Restaurants on the KZN coast rely on the thousands of tourists who descend on them in December to make a year-long living, now they have no electricity for four hours everyday and some towns have no water added to the disaster.

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We owned a mini supermarket come garage shop a few years ago - not the petrol, just the shop and let me tell you it is not as easy as it seems from the other side of the cash register. It was not during load shedding, but there were so many power cuts and believe you me even if the power was off for 15 minutes, your whole freezer of ice creams can be thrown away. We lost two freezes with brand new stock three times. Even if your ice cream fridge is slightly open ALL your ice creams can and will melt and you cannot resell them. Once an ice cream has melted it has to be discarded. Same as the ice fridge, leave it open and all your ice can and will melt. To this day if I am at a shop and see an ice cream fridge even slightly open, I can feel my blood pressure rise and I have to tell myself to calm down it is not my stress and close it. People will slide open the ice cream fridge, take an ice cream out and walk off and leave it open. Why do that, why have such little respect for someone else's hard earned income. Even if it is a huge supermarket chain, someone has to pay for the ruined stock or you and I buy the ice cream only to find that it has melted and refrozen into a yucky mess. Now add load shedding or power cuts for whatever reason into the mix and good bye stock. After four hours say good bye to most of your perishables. Yes you have insurance, but you don't claim for every loss (we didn't claim) and your insurance is only going to pay so many times and then stop. The minute the power went off we would drop everything and get the generator up and running - oh and we won't even go down the road of the theft that happens when the shop is suddenly in complete darkness.

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We have solar power in our house, which Mark had installed just at the end of load shedding in 2008/9. It cost about R35K to install about 3 (sorry typo) 6 years ago, far more than he thought it would cost. When there is no power we have lights and can watch TV and charge phones so we are not totally "powerless". We only have one (car) battery and one small solar panel as it was done as a "trial" and then load shedding stopped and it was sufficient for the power cuts we have had since then. On Friday our power went off at 2 and came back on at 6pm. On Saturday the same, but two hours in and the alarm on the solar panel started going off, because the battery was flat. We thought we had forgotten to turn off the solar power on Friday. On Sunday again the power went off at 2pm as Chad got home from riding, not even half an hour later, solar power alarm started screeching. No solar power. All of our phones were flat and our data modems, so we felt load shedding in all its glory until 18h30 on Sunday night. Chad said we would never have survived in the 1800"s. We have become so used to technology and electricity powered goods. In the '80's and 90's and even the early 2000's General Knowledge was our thing to play when there was no power and there were always loud Ahs when the power came on and we stopped playing. Now we are so head bent attached to our electronic devices that we can't function without them. It was good though, because Chad and I chatted and joked around for about three hours, whilst Mark slept in the lounge. It was really good to chat uninterrupted for so long - no beeping distractions. We all have good intentions when we have children that we are not going to stop communicating with them when they are teenagers, but it is what it is. Teenagers, especially boys are just wired to not have long conversations with their parents (unless they want to). Chad is not the chatty little boy that he used to, when we could not shut him up for two seconds. Chad said that Frankie from The Middle, one of our favourite shows, told Axel, the son that teenage boys are like that so that when they leave home it will be easier to let go.

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By around 5.30 pm, Chad was ready to start trying out some pedal power, that much mom time was a bit too much to handle, but it was fun to reconnect and have some good old, old fashioned conversations. Be that as it may, this energy crises is becoming far more stressful and worrying and yes without jokes and comedy it is all doom and gloom, but why must we all settle for less than we deserve. No electricity adds to the carnage on the road, that is another reason why my child is dead, no power meant no traffic lights, which meant someone thought he was more important than everyone else.

How are you coping with the power cuts or is it affecting your business and income.

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