Tell someone who cares…

Incoming from [redacted], questioning “Real?”.

No. Not really real. But really old.

Subject: ESKOM INCREASE – URGENT PETITION before 19th July

ESKOM TARIFF INCREASE:

Apparently it will be 45% increase each year for 3 years, totalling 135% over 3 years.  It has already been increased by about 100%.

I don’t know about you but I certainly can’t afford to have any more of my hard earned money ploughed into Eskom’s mistakes and poor management.  We have to try and fight this.

TAKE NOTE, ESKOM HAS STOPPED LOAD SHEDDING UNTIL AFTER THE RATE HIKE COMES IN…..SO THAT WE CAN ACCEPT THE HIKE…..WITHOUT TOO MUCH MOANING

We have until the 19th to petition and there has been a poor response.

PETITION AGAINST ESKOM’S ELECTRICITY RATE HIKE OF 53 %.    PEOPLE, PLEASE! WE HAVE TO STAND TOGETHER (IF ONLY THIS ONCE) ON THE ESKOM ISSUE.   IT IS HIGH TIME WE STAND UP FOR WHAT WE WORK SO HARD FOR.   DON’T BE PASSIVE – ADD YOUR NAME TO THIS LIST AND SEND IT ON

The latest is that Eskom is going to raise our electricity rates by 53%, and most of us think that it is unfair and outrageous!   Why should we pay for their mistakes?  Time is running out and we need to move fast!

Every 500th person must please CC to CEO of Eskom.  This e-mail has a table for 1000 names, starting with 1001 and ending with 2000.  Font is set to use capitals so just type in your name at the next open number.  The persons against numbers 1500 and 2000 must CC to CEO of Eskom address is on the next line – do a copy and paste into the To window

thulani.gcabashe@eskom.co.za <mailto:thulani.gcabashe@eskom.co.za>

Where to begin? Some mathematics, I think:

45% + 45% +45% isn’t 135%. You don’t just add them together, you know? But if your rudimentary calculations were correct and it has already increased by 100%, then we only have another 35% to go. Happy days.

And then, when the emotional appeal about your meagre salary gets too much, you HIT THE CAPS LOCK AND MAKE IT LOOK LIKE ESKOM HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MAGIC UP SOME ELECTRICITY FROM THIN AIR SO THAT THERE’S NO MORE LOAD SHEDDING!

Is it still not working? People still aren’t interested?
Then add another 8% to Eskom’s demands in the next paragraph. USE CAPITALS AGAIN!

And then, when you’ve wasted your time reading this, and putting your name and that of your spouse, your kids, your dog, Doreen from the cubicle next door and two random fictitious characters into the table, make sure you forward it to everyone you know.

I really wouldn’t include Thulane Gcabashe though. He left Eskom over 4 years ago.

No boom boom

After the recent events in Japan – most notably the er… “issues” at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility following the earthquake – the public in Cape Town and surrounds has been warned not to panic if they see steam apparently leaking from the Koeberg Power Station just up the road from the city.

The public are advised not to be alarmed at steam issuing from the Koeberg nuclear power station during the next few days.

“Given the events in Japan, we want to assure the public that perfectly clean steam will issue from next to the reactor during the routine shutdown,” spokesman Tony Stott says.

He says that this was part of the cool down process of unit two, which began on Monday at 1.30am.
The unit will take two to three days to cool down enough for it to be opened for workers to begin the refuelling, maintenance and inspections.

Stott went on to say that the shutdown would last around 55 days, during which Unit One would continue to operate at full power.

Let’s hope that this operation goes off (poor choice of expression, sorry) better than the tests Eskom ran at the Duvha Power Station (not nuclear), where a turbo generator apparently malfunctioned during an overspeed test, exploded and caught fire in our own little homage to Fukushima. You only have to look at the photos to see that this was a very big bang. Eina.

This has effectively shut down (probably permanently) the 600MW facility at Duvha and with one of Koeberg’s 900MW reactors out of commission for a couple of months, there’s going to be a lot more pressure on a grid which was under a lot of pressure anyway.

So it looks like we must save electricity or once again face load-shedding.
Please help and do your bit, because no-one likes being loadshod.

South Africa’s Electricity Crisis – Update

My South Africa’s Electricity Crisis post has turned out to be one of the more popular ones on this site, so with there being significant developments in the ongoing saga, I thought I’d update you, the 6000 miles… reading public, with the latest news.

As from Monday, we now have pre-emptive load shedding. Which means that now we are told in advance via schedules when our electricity will be cut and we can plan around it. We can pre-empt the pre-emptive load shedding, if you will. This makes things a whole lot easier. In fact, when you know that you’ll have no power for two hours at 10am on a Tuesday, you can work through almost seamlessly.
But it’s still not enough for some people.

The recent change in tactics comes simply because people in South Africa have not saved enough electricity to avoid mandatory power cuts. We were asked as electricity consumers to save 10%, we didn’t – it’s that straightforward.
It has polarised public opinion, according to the media. As a country, we are now split into two groups (something we’re rather used to here in SA) – the Savers and the Moaners.
This is actually not strictly accurate: there is the third group – quite a large group – which never had the luxury of electricity to begin with. I hesitate to call them the Dark People for obvious reasons. Anyway, they don’t count here, apparently.

The Savers (and I count myself among this group) cut down their electricity use. We installed energy saving CFL lightbulbs, we switched our geysers (water heaters) off for several hours each day, we stopped using standby on the TV etc etc.

The Moaners (quite rightly) blamed Eskom and the Government for the crisis and refused to do anything to help. Consequently, despite the best efforts of the Savers, we are back onto not having any power at certain times of the week.  And this time, it isn’t the fault of Eskom or Government, it’s the fault of the Moaners. Because you see, they had the opportunity to avoid this situation but they chose not to.
Instead, they keep working on their time machines in an effort to go back to 1998 and pre-empt the whole thing. Which obviously won’t work, because if they had managed it, we wouldn’t be having the problems now. Although there’s always the chance that they might stop their parents from ever meeting, which would be a welcome development (if you enjoyed Back to the Future trilogy, you’ll understand where I’m coming from).

Look, it’s not an ideal situation, but at least it’s an improvement on what we had before. What irritates me is that with a little more public buy-in, it could have been even better. We could have avoided having power cuts at all, but you people thought it was better to whinge than to actually do something about it. And guess what, judging by what I’ve heard on the TV and radio, you still think it’s better to whinge than to actually do something about it. Idiots.

Finally – “just” 800 days until the start of the 2010 World Cup and every one of our stadiums is on or ahead of schedule. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Wembley. 

Why are you still here?

No, dear readers. This isn’t a question for you. 
We all know why you’re still here. It’s the almost ethereal, magical, magnetic attraction of the prose you read on these pages. It’s a completely understandable and excusable addiction.
No, this was a question I was asked by the Molton Brown Boys over a particularly tasty curry at Bihari last night. I guess it’s at this point that I should explain that the Molton Brown Boys are a group of friends that get together for a curry and a beer every so often and discuss everything from Borat through to cement statistics.
We were drawn together by our shared outlook on life and our penchant for fine soaps. Deal with it.

So – why are I still here?

The question was posed, I believe, in response to the current “bad news” vibe in South Africa and my ability, as a UK citizen, to up and run back to the safety of Blighty at any time. Why would I want to stay?

Let’s look at the bad news: electricity shortages, crime*, bloody awful customer service. Sure, they’re huge issues – especially those first two. If you’re samzn0, then you’ve obviously had a particularly bad couple of weeks in January and the third one is a big problem too.
But if you want to complain about something else, then you actually have to dig a bit. You could moan about the Government, but some would argue that in many respects, they’re doing a pretty decent job – it’s politics and no-one ever agrees about politics.
You could moan about the inflation and interest rates, and it is a real drain on one’s finances each month, but these growing pains come with a developing economy and frustratingly high oil prices.
You could moan about Bafana Bafana’s exit from the Afcon tournament, but they got drawn in the Group of Death – Senegal are out too. Who’d have thunk it?  

No, life isn’t always easy here, but then is it always easy elsewhere? You see, I believe that wherever you run to, you’ll still find problems and drawbacks. Maybe not as acute and as pressing as those here, but irritating and frustrating, nevertheless.
Examples? Is Gordon Brown everyone’s cup of tea? How much is a litre of petrol in London? And what are England’s footballers doing this summer?

There’s always the plus side. The bit that some people in South Africa (and virtually everyone on that appalling internet forum) try to bury under all the bad stuff. And yes, there are also plus sides wherever else you go in the world as well.
I’m not stupid. I keep an eye on the news and what I see and hear “on the street”. I’m aware of the challenges SA faces now and in the future.
But perhaps part of the lure of SA is the rollercoaster ride between the bad news (which is often pretty bad) and the good bits, which are actually exceptionally good.

There’s the weather, the lifestyle, the food, the scenery, the braais.
There’s the people, the smiles, the optimism, the hope, the World Cup(s). 

It’s hard to define the experience of living in South Africa right now. If one were only to review the newspapers and the news websites (like the people on that forum do), then one would get a horribly skewed version of the country. Actually living here, it’s not like that at all. I’m typing this in a brightly lit room on a PC which is working absolutely fine. I haven’t been murdered today.
Note that I’m not making any claims about customer service though.

One must take the rough with the smooth. And the smooth in South Africa more than makes up for the rough.
I’m staying put, thank you very much.

* Interestingly, the moaning about crime has dropped significantly since the recent round power cuts began. Evidently, even your highly-trained, seasoned moaner can run out of negativity.

Jacob Maroga saved my hearing

Coming hot on the heels of my (as yet unpublished) Jacob Zuma Ate My Hamster post comes some unexpected praise for those masters of the dark arts – Jacob Maroga and Eskom.
For those who aren’t in the SA loop, Jacob Maroga is the CEO of Eskom and Eskom is the company which provides South Africa with electricity.

Sometimes, anyway.

We simply don’t have enough power to go around. I told you about this last week. Then they went and stranded the cable car on Table Mountain – a story which the BBC chose to illustrate with a picture of City Hall taken in 1968.  
Anyway, although I’m pretty sure that the CEOs of major SA industry don’t read this site*, it seems that this week, they have taken my advice and are getting down to the business of dealing with the power outages, rather than moaning about them. Good for you guys.

Anyway, back to my praise of Jacob and Eskom. Why? Because load-shedding has its benefits too.
Obviously, these don’t include the my safety cabinets losing power and MDR-TB starting to drift throughout the lab. That’s not particularly beneficial to anyone, although the shrieks of glee of the recently-freed airborne bacteria was heart-warming to hear.

No. I refer to a particularly ironic and comedic incident as I headed down to the Waterfront for lunch today. Crossing Dock Road, I could hear the sounds of the minstrel jazz band playing along to some cheesy backing track for a crowd of tourists.
Picture the scene. It’s a wonderful atmosphere – the sun is shining, there’s a light breeze and a happy vibe. A backing track plays through a tinny amp while the band – none of them a day under 70, I swear – sit under the trees in the dappled shade; one on bongos, one on a Hammond organ (or similar), one on oil-can guitar and another who occasionally shakes a tambourine, blows a trumpet or sings.

Improvisation is the name of their jazz game. The cerebral musicality of jazz mixed with the visceral groove of funk. 
And their repertoire…? Extensive.
Stretching today to a bloody awful instrumental version of the 1987 Starship hit Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now.

Except that then, Maroga and his Eskom boys stepped in, load-shod – and promptly stopped them.

The irony was lost on the tourists, many of whom were only continuing to endure the overly cheesy soft rock hit while trying to work out if the keyboard player was in fact dead or just asleep.
The guitarist spat on the floor, shook his head in disgust and took out a cigarette. For the next two hours, the Waterfront would be listening to the Sounds of Silence…

* They will when I publish details of the ANC President and his rodent-munching antics – senior management loves JZ gossip.