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'Power crisis could have been averted'

Numsa says the current electricity crises could have been averted had government invested more in Eskom.

Smoke rising from the Medupi power plant. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) says the current electricity crises could have been averted had government invested more in Eskom.

The union has warned that load shedding will have a disastrous effect on jobs and the country's ailing economy.

Numsa's Karl Kloete said, "There's been no capacity, capability or financial resources going into Eskom and this is why today many people will be losing their jobs."

The power utility has declared stage 2 load shedding for today and tomorrow.

Yesterday, Eskom implanted stage 3 load shedding due to lack of diesel reserves which led to a complete shutdown of two key power stations.

FINANCIAL IMPACT

Questions are being asked about the financial impact of load shedding on the economy, with Eskom admitting that the country may see power cuts for the next several days.

If the situation becomes more severe, the utility will have no choice but to cut electricity at its discretion.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says despite the reserves, they are simply not able to meet demand.

"We are of course in the process of building new power stations. We are working very hard to improve the performance of existing power stations which is the problem here."

Warnings have been issued from the business sector that load shedding will have a disastrous effect on jobs and the country's sinking economy.

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry's Neren Rau says, "It is critically important for retailers to be able to be fully operational during this time."

However, energy expert Chris Yelland says the public should be grateful that Eskom is load shedding as the alternative is terrible.

"If you do not balance supply and demand you eventually have a cascading situation where all the generators in South Africa trip out and have a so-called national blackout."

The utility, which supplies virtually all of South Africa's power, said last month the government's promised R20 billion rand cash injection wouldn't be enough to ease funding constraints and help it avoid a credit downgrade.

Eskom has been scrambling to build new power stations to ease razor-thin supply margins, but has been beset by a two year delay at its massive planned Medupi plant.

An extended series of rolling power outages in 2008 caused misery for millions and cost the country billions of rands in lost output.

Load shedding will continue for the rest of the weekend.

Click here to view Eskom's load shedding schedule.

Click here for an interactive map of the load shedding schedule in Cape Town.

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