In run-up to SOPA 2023 Premier takes “Listening Tour” to Atlantis
Media release: In run-up to SOPA 2023 Premier takes “Listening Tour” to Atlantis to see for himself impact of loadshedding
In the run-up to his State of the Province Address (SOPA) this week, Premier Alan Winde took his “Listening Tour” to the community of Atlantis. With the impact of loadshedding on the lives of Western Cape citizens and businesses worsening, the Premier wanted to get a better sense of just how destructive the energy crisis is, especially for small businesses.
Premier Winde visited Mrs. Nazeley Adams, who since losing her job several years ago, put her cooking and baking talents to entrepreneurial use to generate an income for her family. She ran a small catering business. That was until relentless power cuts came along and virtually decimated her business. Her profits have dwindled to the point that she now cannot cook or bake on a daily basis. She can only take limited orders due to the extended periods of power outages. She also had to let an employee go because she could not afford to pay wages.
“Eskom is killing me!” Mrs. Adams told the Premier. She added, “Loadshedding is crippling my business.” Like thousands of small business owners across the province, the Atlantis resident cannot afford to buy a generator or have an inverter installed to cushion the blow of incessant power cuts.
In addition to her business being negatively affected, Mrs. Adams also told the Premier she becomes anxious every time the power goes off because criminals take advantage of the outages. A caravan she purchased for her business was broken into during a bout of blackouts and the criminals made off with items she used to cook and bake with. A local Community Policing Forum representative, who was present at the meeting with the Premier said, “The criminals wait for the lights to go off, then they strike. Crime is getting worse because of loadshedding.”
In his SOPA, Premier Winde detailed the various interventions the Western Cape Government is taking, specifically to help small businesses and ensure the delivery of critical services.
In his speech he explained:
- I have requested the provincial treasury to allocate just over R1 billion rand to respond to the energy crisis in the upcoming three-year budget period.
These funds will go towards responding to the short-term impact of loadshedding on government services; securing diesel to keep essential public services running during power cuts; helping to buffer schools from loadshedding; providing poorer households with “emergency power packs” that help reduce the impact of loadshedding and in assisting SMMEs to assess & implement alternative energy options.
- As the Western Cape Government, we are making sure that municipalities are resourced to ensure safe drinking water and working sewage infrastructure during rolling blackouts through the release of nearly R89 million in emergency funding. The money will be used to purchase backup generators for the treatment and supply of water services.
“We are doing everything we can to fix this problem, and particularly helping small businesses” the Premier told Mrs. Adams. He added, “Protecting small businesses from rolling blackouts is a top priority for us. The Western Cape is being bold in how it tackles this crisis.”
Having delivered his SOPA, the Premier emphasised, “I will continue honestly engaging with our citizens as we navigate our way out of this catastrophe. I want residents to be candid with me about their struggles during rolling blackouts because we as the provincial government are listening. And we do not leave it there, we are taking action now, by stepping in to assist our residents and meeting their most basic needs during rolling blackouts.”
During his Atlantis trip, Premier Winde also visited a piece of land in the area neighbouring the Ankerlig Power Station. The Atlantis Special Economic Zone has earmarked several sites near the power facility for the establishment of businesses to give the region and province another economic boost. Some of the sites could be utiliised by Independent Power Producers (IPPs) keen on tapping into the province’s renewable energy drive. Other sites are aimed at investors wanting to set up factories to create jobs. The Premier remarked, “With our partners at the Atlantis SEZ we are forging ahead to attract more investment to the region.”
Premier Winde concluded, “We are cutting through as much red tape as possible to free up those wanting to help in ending loadshedding and creating employment. Atlantis is perfectly placed for the “Greentech” and green energy sector and related manufacturing investment opportunities.”