Power update four thousand and twenty one

December 12, 2006

Am I boring you with my updates on the electricity situation here? If so, I’m sorry. Just wanted to bring you up to speed. It’s December now and the power cuts have increased, not lessened, seeming to follow a more random pattern by the day. It’s no longer 12 hours, 7 days; right now it’s just completely random. Power is off many days for 18 hours, from 6 or 7 am till 10 pm (nice, candle light). And when it is on, it can fail any moment, come back any moment. It can be gone for an hour or for two days. Maybe that’s how one makes people appreciate power more?

They tell me Tanesco (“We light up your life” grin) is under South African management, isn’t there anyone in the entire office that can explain to me what exactly are the benefits of random power cuts? Are we that low on power that we’re just running when a few megawatts appear somewhere on the grid?

The RDC (Richmond Development Company), turning out to be an American postbox company led by a Tanzanian and a Pakistani, have finally delivered the first parts of their shipment, amounting to a 20MW emergency generator. The bits of news that reach us tell us it’s actually an old jet engine but whatever works. Pictures in the newspaper clearly show the labels ‘Power on Wheels’, denoting the temporary (lease) nature of this equipment and the fact that, call me stupid, anyone in the world could have done the job by calling General Electrics and renting a 20MW plant. Never mind that the third deadline for the machine to work has passed. They will work, one fine day. And then up to the other 80MW that RDC is contractually obliged to deliver.

Is nothing being done? Of course there is. We’re getting a connection to the South African grid, somewhere next year. The private sector is getting involved, even the freshly installed minister of Energy and Minerals is promising improvements (oops, in December, well maybe January).

I’m going to get an electrician in today to re-wire the entire house onto the no-break. It’s no use having computers running if you cannot see your keyboard.


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