Power outages cripple households and business
Homes and businesses have suffered a massive daily power blackout of up to twelve hours since Thursday last week in a sudden crisis that has left the nation literally in the dark.
The grim situation hit the entire country after Eskom, the power utility company in South Africa, cut 35MW of the 100MW it supplies to Botswana Power Corporation(BPC) after they also experienced supply problems.
Eskom have since threatened to stop further power exports, but with Morupule B experiencing construction deficiencies, the country’s economic security has been left under threat.
The local business community has been left counting the costs of the damage caused by the outages.
Without any public announcement on the situation by the authorities, Business advocacy organization Botswana Confederation of Commerce Industry and Manpower (BOCCIM) have voiced their concerns over the situation.
“This is a very unfortunate situation and we are concerned about it because there is no clear picture as to how it will end.
There has not been any public announcement and we do not even know if whatever remedies BPC have in place will bear any fruit,” BOCCIM CEO Maria Machailo-Ellis told Voice Money on Wednesday.
The Boccim boss said the situation has had a heavy knock on businesses.
“The services sector together with hospitality and retail sectors have been badly affected by the situation and this is very bad for our economy.”
Retailers have been forced by the situation to hire backup power generators – which are an extra cost to the normal running of the business.
“This is ill-timed as it coincides with the period where business is expected to peak.
We have lost thousands of pulas since Thursday,” said an Indian retail business operator, Rashid Judy.
Judy said he is losing a lot of business due to the situation.
He said the backup power generator is small and cannot manage to supply enough to cold rooms as well as big stoves in the restaurant.
“My clients are refusing to buy food saying they cannot eat cold food.
They are also afraid that our perishables have gone bad,” he lamented.
A random survey by Voice Money also established that most retail shops were closed on Thursday and Friday through weekend.
Some employees were being returned home for the past four to five days because there was no production.
“My employer decided to give us a paid off day today (last Friday) because the likelihood was that we were going to spend the whole day sitting again,” said Martin Tapela, who works at a mechanical engineering company.
Residents were not spared by the crisis.
Most slept and spent days on empty stomachs because of the prolonged load shedding.
Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Minister Kitso Mokaila promised the nation that the power situation will improve next month.