Eskom said it was escalating its rolling blackouts to Stage 4, requiring 4 000 MW of demand to be suppressed at any given time, from the earlier announced Stage 2 after unexpectedly losing six additional generating units.
“Stage four load shedding is very serious indeed and it will affect commerce and industry,” CCCI president Janine Myburgh said.
“This will also affect the jobs of other workers, especially in heavy industry and it is time that workers whose jobs are at risk raised their voices.”
Myburgh said the crisis could see foreign investors “turning away and looking elsewhere for investment opportunities”.
“How is it possible for six units to go down at the same time? It is just too much of a coincidence and we must ask if this is not another case of sabotage?” she said, referring to a previous spate of load-shedding allegedly triggered by workers preventing coal deliveries from taking place.
The Cape Chamber said the latest power cuts had come in middle of the tourism season and at a vital time for agriculture; two of the region’s most important industries.
Eskom, which has asked NERSA for annual tariff increases about three times the consumer inflation rate over the next three years, has warned that this latest phase of loadshedding could last until April.
In his state of the nation address to Parliament last Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the struggling entity would be divided into Generation, Transmission and Distribution entities as part of a new business model.