Are we a nation of whingers?

We whinged, complained, griped and whined, when we were told that there would be nationwide power outages for the next three months (at least).

And today we whinged, complained, griped and whined, because the load shedding did not start on time!

How bizarre is that?

For the last couple of weeks, our much-maligned electricity supply commission Eskom has been threatening us with nationwide scheduled load-shedding. They have – apparently – spent an untold fortune on publicising these schedules in the various newspapers and other media.

We were told that D-day would be in the early hours of Monday, 31 March 2008, and that it would continue for the next three months, right into the coldness of winter. We were also told that this was a necessary precautionary step, as it would enable Eskom to shut down those generating plants that needed routine maintenance, in preparation for the surge in consumption during winter.

If we didn’t allow Eskom to do this, we were told, in a stern schoolmasterly voice, we would have frequent unscheduled blackouts throughout the cold months. Of course, they also covered their collective bee-hinds by saying that there might still be unplanned outages in addition.

Now according to the schedule, each suburb would have one, two or three 2.5 hours slots without power a week. I checked Pinelands’ slots – Mondays from 12h00 to 14h30 and Thursdays from 20h00 to 22h30.

Yes, it is great to have advance warning:

  • you can keep boiling water in a thermos for tea or coffee;
  • you can eat all the ice-cream in the freezer beforehand (yaaaay!);
  • you can pre-prepare meals that don’t need heating up;
  • you have time to dot candles all around the house for a romantic evening at home;
  • you can plan when to do your shopping (note – most Woolworths stores have generators);
  • and you can plan when to stick your bank-card into the ATM without dreading its disappearance into the bowels of the machine, etc.

On the downside, I am a little concerned about possible crime-sprees in areas without power. Do we really want the bad boys to know when our gates, alarms and electronic sensors will not be working (unless they’re on battery, of course)?

And quite frankly, power outages, whether planned or not, are bad news for all kinds of business and industry. So there was a fair bit of complaining in the run-up to D-Day today.

So imagine our surprise when load-shedding did not in fact start this morning at all. I tried to follow the news on the radio a bit – it seems that there was an urgent high-level meeting with Eskom and all the major stakeholders, with regard to the practical implementation of the schedule (weird… surely there had been enough time to plan this?).

It was only confirmed late tonight that the load-shedding would in fact commence tomorrow, Tuesday.

I’ll just go stock up on some candles – oh! and matches!

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