Sunday, March 7, 2021

Fresh produce firms report 70 percent losses in business due to power outage

The recent large scale power cuts have cost local fresh producers over 70 percent of their daily businesses, Sunday Standard has learnt.
Leading fresh produce firms such as Parmalat, Senn Foods and diary production companies are the most affected.
Leading supermarkets such as Pick n Pay and Food Lovers Market have equally been hurt by the ongoing power crisis.
Senn Botswana Chief Executive, L Venkataraman said the power cuts have affected their operations badly.
The cuts have also eaten on their pocket as they have been forced to hire generators which are said to be too expensive to operate.
“Most retailers whom we supply do not have backups and as a result do not want to stock much, this has slashed our business by close to 70 percent.”
Venkataraman said they have been forced to cut down their production so as to accommodate the needs of their clients. He warned that should the situation persist, they would be left with no option but to slash their labour.
“We are a private business, we cannot continue to run our business at a loss,” Venkataraman said.
South Africa which supplies Botswana with over 80 percent of its energy needs imposed rolling power cuts for the first time since 2008 last week Thursday as it struggled to cope with coal shortages and technical problems caused by recent heavy rains.
The State-owned electricity firm Eskom said incessant downpours over the past week had flooded mines and left stockpiles too wet to use in its coal-fired power plants.
The company, which supplies around 95 percent of South Africa’s electricity, called on major industrial customers to reduce usage by at least 10 percent, and domestic users to turn off swimming pool pumps, water heaters and other non-essential items.
Botswana which heavily relies on the imports from Eskom was a result equally affected after the South African power utility company, cut 35 megawatts of the 300MW it supplies to Botswana and warned that it could cut the electricity exports completely depending on the situation in South Africa.
Meanwhile by the beginning of this week, Botswana’s production line continued to be ground to a standstill with scores of retailers in some of the country’s major shopping malls closing before the usual times.
Just like late last week, investors continued to scramble for the few generators on the private market as companies leasing generators continue to run out of stock.
Leading commercial banks also could not disburse funds on Saturday because of the power outage.
The outages which went into the second week, forced mobile phone operators like Mascom Wireless, Orange Botswana and Botswana Telecommunication’s beMOBILE to scour the private market in search of diesel powered generations to keep their towers running.

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