Samuel Marima prepares popcorn while Clement Baloyi serves a customer, Mpho Molokomme. Photo: Mzamane Ringane

Power cut jitters


Mzamane Ringane   l   Views: 139

Businesses and households in Modimolle, Mookgophong and Vaalwater face the prospect of power supply interruptions as Eskom threatened to pull the plug on the “escalating municipal debt.”

The national utility Eskom has triggered shockwaves across the towns, following an announcement of its intention to interrupt power supplies with effect from Saturday, 31 March.

Last December the national bulk power supplier threatened to put the squeeze on Modimolle, Vaalwater and Mookgophong, but the decision was later suspended after the municipality honoured the repayment agreement. The new threat was likely to have dire consequences for locals, especially those who operate small businesses like fast-food outlets. 

Eskom said the decision was taken after a “careful consideration of the overall impact of the escalating municipal debt.”

Interruptions were scheduled to take place over various phases on a given day and/or weekend.

Mayor Marlene van Staden said she was aware of the devastating impact the power interruptions would have on local businesses and residents, and was working relentlessly to avoid it at all costs.

The mayor has also expressed concern the interruptions were scheduled to start at the beginning of the Easter Weekend and school holidays. 

The BEAT spoke to emergent small business entrepreneurs, who depend largely on electricity as a main source of energy, to run their operations on a daily basis.

In Phagameng Township, young entrepreneurs, Samuel Marima and Clement Baloyi, the co-owners of Samu and Clement, were this week exploring creative ways to the keep going the sale of ice-cream, popcorn, airtime, pre-paid electricity and data bundles.

Marima said without electricity the business would certainly be affected, but then indicated they would try to find alternative ways such as gas stoves and solar panels to keep operations going.

“With the winter season approaching, we cannot afford to shut down because our customers are mostly learners from the nearby school. We will try to find alternative ways like gas stoves, so we can serve them with hot soup during winter,” he said. 

Baloyi said it was disheartening the threatened interruptions came at a time when the business was showing signs of healthy growth. 

“When we started a year ago, we sold only ice cream, and then later introduced popcorn and pre-paid (electricity) vouchers. We are currently working on expanding the business further,” he said.  

William Tutje, also of Modimolle, owns a fast- food outlet which sells the popular bunny chow snack known as sphatlo. 

He said his business would definitely be badly affected, and that it was likely to be expensive to find other methods of preparing the meals such as gas stoves. 

Tutle was confident; however, his operations should survive the anticipated dark days.

35 days ago       22 March 2018