Small business owners say the planned fixed load shedding schedule by Eskom will not cushion them from incurring losses and additional operational costs.

Some SMMEs in Cape Town say even though the move will enable them to plan for their operations it will not spare them from operational losses. The power utility announced the possibility of implementing stage 2 to stage 3 load shedding for at least two years so that critical maintenance can be done on power stations.

A laundromat in Sea Point, found in 1985, has seen a number of tragedies over the years including taxi violence, water crisis between 2015 to 2017, COVID-19 lockdown and now the energy crisis. Its owner, who started the business 38 years ago, says a permanent solution is needed for her.

“I used to have three staff working throughout the day. Now I have employed six staff to do the work in a shorter time. We got four hours a day so we increase the staff and reduce salaries,” says the owner Lessa Gordon.

Small business owners remain optimistic that a solution will be found.

“It affects us but we roll with the punches. It’s only ladies I can’t blow dry so I am getting a generator soon and this too shall pass,” says salon founder Wim van Zyl.

“It’s becoming more frustrating. We need to buy a generator. Some people cannot sit and wait while power is out and it affects the business,’ says another salon owner Eugene Slabbert.

Some businesses in the township are say investing on back-up power outweighs the operational costs.

“I did my calculations and I realised I am working on deficit. I pay more to use the generator than I am paying for,” says welder Michael Mebokar.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce is proposing that some essential companies be exempted from load shedding to safeguard food security.

“In an economy, we are planning to grow, we cannot have limited services. We have businesses that are backbone to the economy. We believe they should be exempted to safeguard food security,” says Jacques Moolman, President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce.

Cape Town residents with solar systems will soon be able to sell their excess electricity to the City of Cape Town to boost the capacity of the local authority’s energy network and combat load shedding.

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