This morning I received a briefing on the situation in the province from our Provincial Disaster Management Teams and from Eskom. This follows the severe load shedding that has occurred this week, and which necessitated me calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to urgently undertake a range of measures to ensure he takes the lead to fix this dire situation.
Eskom has indicated that the situation is under control and that residents should not panic. Assurances were made that these load shedding periods are a control measure, and that the situation is being managed. The prognosis for load shedding remains high for the remainder of the week.
I also received briefings from SAPS, our Disaster Management teams and various provincial departments to determine their state of readiness for major power outages and the major risks they face should sustained power outages become a reality.
I was assured that a clear emergency contingency plan is in place for any eventuality, and that the Joint Operations Centre is already functioning 24/7 as a matter of precaution. Key departments and agencies have cancelled leave, and I am assured that staff will be available over the festive period.
My Director General, Harry Malila, will be holding an emergency top management meeting this afternoon to ensure that all departments systems’ and business continuity plans are tested to ensure that they are fully functional. This will include ensuring that generators are fully functional, and other emergency procedures are in place. Our key frontline service delivery departments already have preparedness plans in place.
We are working with the City of Cape Town to ensure that the weekend’s Sevens Rugby tournament, a major tourism event and a big contributor to our economy, is able to go ahead without issue.
In terms our health and education departments:
-We have significant generator capacity installed at our healthcare facilities;
-We are ensuring that manufacturers of oxygen for patients, which require an uninterrupted power supply, are able to continue operating;
-We are ensuring power supply to make sure Matric exam results are captured by 17 December.
We have learnt from the recent drought that communities have the biggest impact in making a difference. Eskom has confirmed to us that the efforts of citizens can and do make a difference.
In this regard I know that Cape Town and Western Cape residents are ready to play their part to light the way forward. This can be done by turning off geysers except for at key times of the day, and limiting usage of appliances like washing machines, tumble dryers, air conditioners, electric stoves and swimming pool pumps.
Residents can be proactive by:
-Ensuring that cell phones are fully charged. If possible, charge additional power banks as well.
-Keeping extra water on hand in the event that pressure is diminished.
-Ensuring vehicles and home generators are fuelled.
-Stocking up on additional lighting sources like candles and battery powered lights.
-Knowing their load shedding schedules for their areas and planning their daily routine in advance.
While we know that residents will do what is required, what we need is a long-term solution, and only the President has the power to fix our power. We look forward to his leadership in responding to this matter of public urgency.