While Eskom is insistent that a total blackout is out of the question, a concerned group has launched a basic emergency guide to living in the dark.
The plan offers practical tips on how households can prepare for the eventuality of being without Eskom electricity for up to two weeks, the period it would take for Eskom to turn the lights back on if there was a total blackout.
While acting Eskom CEO Brian Molefe ruled out any chance of a total blackout from occurring, energy analyst Ted Blom told a public hearing this week that he believed there was more than a 50% chance of it occurring during winter.
“I believe that the probability of a grid meltdown is more than 50%,” he told a National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) panel at a public hearing in Johannesburg on Eskom’s application for a further hike in tariffs.
“A total grid collapse is what we don’t want to face because it will take you anything between a week and two weeks to recover, and I’m not even talking about the mayhem that will occur in the meantime.”
Trade union Solidarity teamed up with KragDag and Maroela Media to create an emergency plan aimed at the event of a total Eskom blackout.
“Although chances for a collapse of the national grid are slim, Solidarity believes members of the public should consider being prepared for it to some degree,” the trade union said in a statement on Sunday.
“Cabinet, the Cape Metropolitan Council and several other provincial and metropolitan authorities have reportedly started to make such preparations.”
Independent energy experts have already referred to the possibility of protracted power outages, Solidarity explained.
“Should such an eventuality occur the public will, to a large extent, have to rely on themselves and should thus be prepared,” explained Solidarity’s Piet le Roux.
“Even if it doesn’t happen, it is still in the public’s interest to be proactive,” he said. “With this emergency plan we want to help our members and the general public to be prepared too so there would be no reason to panic should Eskom not be able to supply electricity for a week or two.”
The emergency plan includes tips that range from planning to have water and food supplies to arrangements on how family members would stay in touch with one another should communication be impeded.
Other aspects also covered deal with safety measures, as well as possible cooperation between neighbours and other members of the community.
The emergency plan is in the format of a back-to-back A4 document on which households can tick off progress. It is divided into measures that can be taken beforehand and those that could be taken during an outage.
Click here to download the plan in Afrikaans (English version available soon).