Power outage cripples Durban North businesses – owners

The electricity supply outages have crippled businesses, since last Wednesday, on Columbine Place in Durban North. Picture: Supplied

The electricity supply outages have crippled businesses, since last Wednesday, on Columbine Place in Durban North. Picture: Supplied

Published Mar 6, 2024


Durban — Business owners in Glen Anil, Durban North, say they are bearing the full brunt of the eThekwini municipal workers’ strike that has crippled the City’s essential services such as water and electricity supplies and refuse collection.

Members of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) went on strike on February 27, resulting in electricity supply outages that have impacted businesses on Columbine Place, since last Wednesday.

Some businesses have been closed for a week already. The owner of a wood manufacturing business, who wanted to remain anonymous, said that the power supply went off last Wednesday at 10.30am. They had escalated the problem to the municipality and the ward councillor.

“It comes down to the matter requiring it to be escalated to the depot and since that was affected by the strike, nothing has happened.

“Also, the contractors were too afraid to work. This level of medium voltage fault can’t be done by a contractor and has to be done by an official from the municipality. There are staff willing to work but they fear being shot following an incident involving a contractor being shot in Kloof,” the business owner said.

Owner of Eat Greek Foods, David Moran, said the area had been experiencing power issues for months. Moran said businesses were subjected to four-hour outages – and sometimes up to 20 hours.

“On top of that, they took us off the industrial grid and placed us on residential load shedding – which is a very high cost impact we had not planned for,” he said.

Moran said they have been fortunate to have a generator – a 40Kva 3 Phase Diesel. Without it, their business would be forced to shut down.

“It uses 5 litres of diesel per hour. Since we installed it a year and a half ago, we have already had to run it for 540 hours,” he said.

A bakery store owner, who opted to remain anonymous, said she had 40 staff who were affected by the closure of their business.

“I have had stock go off and we have been closed for a week. We have been told that they can’t get the tools to fix things, but my question is where are the police?

“We can’t use a generator as it would make our business run at a loss,” she said.

eThekwini ward 110 Councillor, Aamir Abdul, said the electricity depot was aware of the power outage affecting Glen Anil. The underground fault in Glen Anil was affecting 15 power stations, he said, but municipal staff were too afraid to go out to do repairs and could not access the required tools.

eThekwini Municipality spokesperson, Gugu Sisilana, said the municipality was concerned about the impact that the unlawful strike action had on service delivery, and put in place emergency contingency plans to minimise service disruptions to residents and business.

“The Metro Police working with the South African Police Service have intensified their deployment, and more arrests are imminent to deal with the violence and lawlessness.

“The Electricity Unit as well as the Water and Sanitation Unit, have established contingency plans to prioritise areas currently without these critical services.”

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said employees who vandalised and sabotaged vital infrastructure during the ongoing illegal strike will face the full might of the law and consequence management.

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Daily News