South Africa News

Durban businessman spends R30 million yearly on diesel to keep the lights on

The owner of Durban’s Oceans Mall and Sibaya Casino, Vivian Reddy says he spends close to R30 million a year on diesel due to load shedding.

The KwaZulu-Natal businessman was one of many private sector stakeholders who met the minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa in Durban on Tuesday for an engagement on energy challenges and interventions.

Reddy said businesses in KZN were struggling and that in a year the Oceans development in Umhlanga spent R15 million on diesel to run generators and ensure that the businesses were not interrupted by the outages, while the Sibaya Casino spent R12 million.

He said the government was aware of these challenges and the exorbitant costs businesses incurred to keep their businesses running during load shedding that sometimes occurred many times a day.

“As a result, the private sector is taking the lead. At Sibaya Casino we are having to look at other alternatives. We are looking at solar and gas. We are not the only ones who are looking at these other options but we still experience pushback as there are not enough transmission lines to link the energy back to Eskom and that’s a big problem,” said Reddy.

He said that the minister had the right energy and attitude to come up with solutions.
However, he believed that the minister could be more honest about when load shedding would end instead of telling the public what they wanted to hear.

This load shedding will not just disappear. It will be here for a long time but with partnerships with the private sector I believe it can be lessened

“My prediction is that we are still about five years away from the end of load shedding.”

Other business people like Peter Thembane from South African Breweries requested that the minister be more specific on how many kilowatts were available, and when, so that businesses could plan better and be part of the solution while many felt there was too much red tape to penetrate the energy-producing sector and secure partnership with government.

The minister agreed with the business sector that load shedding crippled productivity and affected workers’ wages negatively. He said it was projected that 840 000 job losses are expected in 2024 as a direct result of load shedding which would be an increase from the 640 000 from the previous year.

He also highlighted that the manufacturing and the agriculture sectors were most affected by power outages. “I also understand that South Africa is losing international investors who are shying away as we are being viewed as unreliable because of the energy crisis that we face.”

Ramakgopa told business people at the engagement he understood what challenges were brought by load shedding and promised interventions that will alleviate the situation. However, he said load shedding was necessary during the maintenance period, which was the route taken to end the energy crisis.

He said the maintenance of Eskom plants would prevent permanent breakdowns of power stations. However, he added that the risk of the maintenance intervention was that load shedding was inevitable as shutting down power was necessary to allow for maintenance to take place.

He said it was expected that the maintenance of power stations would start to decrease from March, which would result in fewer planned power switch-offs.

This will create up to 2 500klW additional capacity into the generation system support

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said she was pleased to get input from the private sector and looked forward to partnering with them to get KZN as off-the-grid as possible.

“We are comforted through such engagements to find out that the president and the minister are working hard to end load shedding, all efforts are being made and all energy sources are being exploited and explored,” she said.