Rolling power blackouts continue to cause inconvenience in the lives of Nelson Mandela Bay residents. Businesses are struggling to stay afloat while it is a struggle for students who have to prepare for exams.

Eskom moved blackouts from stage two to stage four this week. The metro is adamant this will affect the distribution of water.

There were fears amongst residents that the persistent blackouts might affect the distribution of water as pump stations rely on electricity to operate. But the Nelson Mandela Metro says the pump station will not be affected.

The metro is currently battling drought as the combined dam levels have dipped to 12%.

Acting Infrastructure Executive Director, Joseph Tsatsire has warned that some areas might be without water if the blackouts persist.

“Most of our bulk installations, meaning pump stations and our treatment facilities are exempted from load shedding. The installations from Standford as well as Motherwell have been completely exempted through our electricity department. And we continue to convey supply of water from east to west and then distribute it throughout the city. So, we don’t envisage we are going to see any water disruptions.”

Impact of blackouts on businesses

The high petrol price has also exacerbated the situation as generators are no longer an option as a backup for businesses. The tourism sector continues to drown while it is still struggling with COVID-19.

Chairperson of the Bed and Breakfast sector in Port Elizabeth, Shena Wilmot says they are losing more bookings due to the blackouts.

“You do have generator, those who do have generators, it is costing a fortune in petrol. You know what the price of petrol is now and you have to run it eight, nine, ten hours a day just to try to keep the fridges running and yourself going, to be able to answer emails and do things like that. It has really been a very difficult time for people to even survive.”

Students struggling to study

Despite the introduction of online lectures due to COVID-19, the rolling blackouts are making it difficult for students to cope as they have to access course materials online.

For Nelson Mandela University students, it has been a scramble trying to balance studying and coping with blackouts.

“ This year the lecturers give us the material online and I just downloaded it on my laptop because it is cheaper than buying a textbook so I started using my laptop but because there are no lights I haven’t studied properly since Friday,” says one of the students.

Another student says, “Really even with my friend who is my housemate he has candles because he had to finish a lot of assignments. Some of them are being extended by one day but honestly, I don’t think that’s enough.”

Professor Tshilidzi Marwala talks about the impact of the rolling blackout on learning and teaching:

Another challenge facing the Metro is the old infrastructure which saw repeated electricity disruptions in some areas due to maintenance. Rolling blackouts will continue until Saturday morning.