Blackouts batter Hout Bay businesses

JT Hair Salon during load shedding with no clients

Hout Bay businesses are taking a beating from relentless bouts of load shedding.

Businesses say the blackouts are losing them customers and damaging equipment, and some had to deploy more staff to cope.

Chandre Lot owns JT Hair Salon with branches in Hout Bay Harbour and Hout Bay Main Road.

“Our customers are telling us they’re going to go somewhere else where they are accommodated and where load shedding isn’t affecting business,” she said. ”We are losing big time… we’re losing out on money and clients.”

She said she had lost two hair dryers in a space of a month to power spikes caused by the load shedding.

Empty salon seats at JT Hair Salon as clients go elsewhere where business isn’t affected.

Solomon Phiri, who owns Solomon’s Welding Works in Imizamo Yethu, said load shedding was destroying his business.

“We do welding, carpentry, and without electricity we cannot work. When the electricity is gone, we lose our customers, we lose money. Electricity is killing our business.”

Petty crime has also increased in the area during load shedding, according to Hout Bay Community Crime Prevention operations manager JJ de Villiers.

“Cable theft and petty crime have been hectic; we’ve had two members patrolling over each load shedding time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Matt Mercer, the admin of the Hout Bay Organised Facebook Group, has been posting daily load-shedding schedules to the group, which has nearly 30 000 members.

“A lot of the apps don’t really understand Hout Bay,“ he said. ”Hout Bay falls under City supply. The apps have gotten better, but a lot of them make mistakes. It’s difficult for people to understand and read, especially the older people or where English isn’t their mother tongue.

“When I know there’s going to be load shedding, I will check all the different sites, to see what the news is. We sometimes don’t know what Eskom is going to do. We’ve got a big following for load shedding, a lot of people from Imizamo Yethu always say thank you so much, they just go straight to HBO because pinned to the top is going to be load shedding.”

The load shedding was exacerbated by a week-long strike that was characterised by threats against Eskom employees who did not want to down tools.

Eskom spokesman Sikhona Mantshantsha said in a statement on Sunday July 3 that load shedding would persist, at various stages, over the next few weeks while the power utility recovered electricity generation levels seen before the strike.

Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said the City was determined to end its reliance on Eskom-generated power as soon as possible,

“We simply must do more to protect our residents from the dire failure to provide even the most basic services at a national level – be it energy, policing, public transport, bulk water, you name it.

“We have to make sure that this is the last straw, by pushing as fast as we can to devolve the generation of electricity and other critical services from a national government that is clearly collapsing.”