Short

A quick post about our current predicaments:

There’s not enough electricity to go around. This is actually very old news, although South Africans continue to complain about it while doing nothing to save the damn stuff when they have it. It’s clear that generally, despite their lack of action to combat the problem, people are very unhappy about it.

The alternative, of course, is gas. We don’t have it plumbed to our houses here in SA like some other countries I’ve lived in, so it comes in big bottles. Well, it would if there wasn’t a shortage of it:

Dear Customers,
As you may have heard through the media, LP gas is currently in short supply in South Africa as a result of planned maintenance on a few of the major refineries in the country.
Please take the time to read the attached letter regarding the LP gas supply issues we are currently experiencing.

I’ll spare you the attached letter, which basically says there’s a shortage of gas, resulting in “unavoidable price increases”. Supply and demand etc etc. People are not going to be happy.

Anecdotally (hey, it works for Prof Tim), there’s also a shortage of diesel in Cape Town. My car doesn’t run on diesel. Mrs 6000’s car does run on diesel – when she can find some to put in it. Same with lorries delivering food and goods all over the country. Less diesel, higher demand, higher prices (although they are somewhat regulated in SA) = unhappy people.

And now, arguably the most serious of all, we have a shortage of water. Figures due to be released this morning will almost certainly indicate that the reservoirs supplying Cape Town are now less than half full. That’s not good, but ironically, it’s less than half the problem as well. The bigger issue is that it’s also not raining on the local farms:

A drought that has probably reduced South Africa’s corn crop for 2015 to the smallest in eight years is also putting at least half the country’s wheat harvest at risk, the largest grain farmers’ lobby said.
Farms in the Western Cape have had little or no rain since the start of the planting season in April and need showers before the end of May, Andries Theron, vice chairman of Grain SA, told reporters Thursday at an agricultural show in Bothaville.

The province, whose wheat fields are rain-fed, produces about 50% of the nation’s harvest of the cereal, data from the Grain Information Service show.
“We started planting in dry soil,” he said. “Usually, our rainy season would start in the middle of April, but it didn’t. We’ve got a hectic season on hand.”

And then this, from Agri Wes-Cape’s CEO Carl Opperman:

“This has been the driest summer the province has seen in many years. Rains that should have already fallen are desperately needed, especially by grain farmers.
“It’s a dry circle that we’ve got at the moment. We will be managing it, so we’re expecting rain in the future. It’s most probably going to be what we call ‘a dry winter'”.

Come now, Carl – drop the technical terminology, can’t you? You’re unnecessarily baffling us with bullshit there. Is there really no language you could have used so that us laypersons could understand?

Looking at the forecast for the coming week, our local grain farmers are going to remain disappointed.

And so… guess what? Less grain supply, no reduction in demand = higher prices. And that means unhappy people.

I’ve never been convinced that a single straw could break a camel’s back. But several big fat straws? Well, maybe we’re in for interesting times ahead.

No recharge available

We forgot to charge the beagle before this afternoon’s loadshedding.

DSC_0002_11_opt111

There’s not much we can do about it now until the power returns, but hopefully this will serve as a warning to other beagle owners in South Africa to not make the same silly mistake.

And no, I’m not going to tell you where the plug goes.

#ChargeYourBeagle

Cape Town – Useful loadshedding information sources

After I wrote this shocked (pun intended) piece about the shocking (pun intended) reaction to the loadshedding this week, and with the thought of a LoadsheddingBalls series still not completely discounted, I thought that the individuals involved might actually just need some help.

See, the information on loadshedding is out there. It’s just about knowing where to look. And with a situation that is constantly changing, social media is perfect for keeping up with the latest updates. This is a Cape Town-leaning list, and that’s for two reasons: firstly, the authorities in Cape Town are generally very good at sharing information on loadshedding, and secondly, I live in Cape Town, so I’ve found the best ways for me to keep up to date.

On Twitter:

The big cheese. Eskom themselves: @Eskom_SA. Love them or hate them (I know, I know), this is the twitter account that will tell you what is going on with loadshedding nationally.

The other big cheese. Helen Zille: @HelenZille. Love her or hate her… oh whatever, and yes, there’s a lot of other noise on this account, but HZ does often relay a useful synopsis for the day, e.g.:

Warning: may also contain politically volatile batshittery.

City of Cape Town official twitter accounts: @CityofCT and @CityofCTAlerts. These are regularly updated with information on loadshedding: what stage we’re on, which zones are due to be shod next and so on. They will also be my primary source for LoadsheddingBalls, because of the fantastic replies they generate.

There are other loadshedding accounts that have popped up, but I’ve found that they’re not always hugely reliable.

On Facebook:

The City of Cape Town official Facebook account is just a mirror of their twitter account. But it’s very good at keeping you up to date with the latest loadshedding news.

On the internet generally:

For loadshedding schedules and maps, you need look no further than this very site:

Until end January 2015
From February 1st 2015

and tie them in with the latest stage in the red box here.

For Eskom supplied areas, you need their official loadshedding page.

Now you know what I know. Forewarned is forearmed.

Loadshedding reaction

And so, as widely predicted, loadshedding started again in South Africa yesterday. It’s the first time it’s happened this year, but it certainly won’t be the last. In fact, we’ve been told to expect it for the next 3 (three) years. Next week, our chronic problem will be acutely exacerbated by Koeberg’s No.1 Reactor being switched off for routine maintenance, and, if the reaction to yesterday’s events are anything to go by, we’re simply not going to survive.

Liverpool has long been chastised for its “victim mentality”. It is the Mario “Why Always Me?” Balotelli of cities, which is what made his move there last year so deliciously ironic. But a quick look at social media yesterday indicated that as a country, we’re pretty close to besting their “pity me” efforts. Here’s a quick selection of stuff I saw.

There was anger:

Complaining will usually make a difference if, say, you have had some bad service in a restaurant. Right with you there, Frana. But if you actually believe that complaining about loadshedding (even to these mysterious “right people”) will make the slightest jot of difference, you’re sadly wrong. While the restaurant manager can have a quiet word with your errant waiter, there’s no quick fix to [many] years of under-investment and the alleged lack of foresight by those in power (pun intended).  

Thanks Thabo. The microbiologist within me (I will let him out one day) has insisted that I pick you up on that first sentence though. Unless you are some crazy conspiracy theorist (and maybe you are), you should know that not every virus is made by man. Very, very few viruses are actually made by man. And loadshedding are not one of them.

And then there was the Sea Point Incident (#SPI), whereby the electricity tripped due to a power surge just as it was being restored following their allocated loadshedding period.
Jeez. You would think that the world. Had. Ended.

Obviously, the #SPI was a result of Eskom and City of Cape Town joining forces to deliberately crap all over Sea Point and thus, it was totes unfair:

Because people had important stuff to do:

Surely there was some sort of error?

And they really hope that it’s not going to happen again:

Honestly, if we could generate electricity by whinging, we’d be sorted.
But sadly for you guys:

nothow

However, we have to go to Facebook to find yesterday’s winning loadshedding reaction:

nowarn

nowarn2

nowarn3

But… but… how?

Excuse me asking, but exactly which large rock have you been living under? And is it still dark under there?

Sure, you may not have Twitter, although you do have Facebook, but then, maybe you don’t use it very much. (Although you could, and then you might not be so unpleasantly surprised in future.)

But do you not have a newspaper, an internet, a radio or a TV? If you do, do you read, listen or watch it? If so, how did you not know this was coming? And if not, how exactly do you expect to expect the wholly expected? Must the authorities inform everyone else by these mass methods of communication, but employ someone to pop round personally inform you of the latest news? Is this what we’re paying our taxes for? If so, it’s money that could be better spent on mending the broken electricity grid, so it’s people like you that are responsible for all these problems in the first place.

You and Apartheid. Allegedly.

Cape Town 2015 Loadshedding Schedule

The City of Cape Town has released its new “improved”, fairer loadshedding schedule, which is applicable from 1st February 2015.
Rather than running on 7 day ‘days of the week’ timetables, we’re now looking at 16 day ‘date of the month’ schedules. Routine be damned!

Here’s your handy download of map and schedule, courtesy of 6000 miles… (or you can read on).

How to use the schedule:

  1. Find out which area you’re on, using the handy & colourful map.
  2. Check the red box here or here to see what stage loadshedding is happening.
    (Or check the City twitter account).
  3. Look at the calendar, check the date and look below to see when you’re going to be loadshod.

(Click images to enlarge)
loadshed1

loadshed2

PLEASE NOTE

  • Based on the national power grid, Eskom may change or suspend the loadshedding stage at any time.
  • If loadshedding does not occur in your area as indicated on the current schedule, it does not mean you will be excluded next time.
  • If you are in areas 17 – 23 or an unshaded area, then view your schedule at this web address: www.loadshedding.eskom.co.za
  • If power is not restored at the allocated time, please report this on SMS 31220
  • Electricity is needed to power certain city functions e.g. water reservoir pumps, sewage and drainage. Please use water sparingly during loadshedding periods.
  • During loadshedding treat all electricity appliances carefully as electricity might turn on at anytime.

Have fun, save power, do stuff.