Impoverished Western Cape schools get “loadshedding relief”

  • The Western Cape provincial government is giving loadshedding-fighting kits to local schools.
  • It has handed 96 000 loadshedding relief packs so far to schools and other vulnerable centres, like shelters.
  • Each pack contains different types of backup lighting, and solar-powered batteries to stave off the darkness.

Despite the lack of loadshedding for more than 30 days now, according to the CEO of Eskom, blackouts are likely to return during the upcoming winter months. To get ahead of the outages, the government of the Western Cape are handing “loadshedding relief packages” to schools in the poorer areas of the province.

Premier of the province Alan Winde was on hand at two Cape Town schools on 30th April to hand packages of gadgets and kits so that students can still use their smartphones and, more importantly, continue studying for exams even when the lights go out.

“As much as we are investing in protecting essential municipal services during power cuts, we are going a step further to offer vulnerable citizens further assistance to mitigate the impact of the energy crisis,” explained Winde.

The premier distributed packs to the Bardae Secondary School in Mfuleni and then Voorbrug High School in Delft. Both schools are in the 1 – 3 quintiles, meaning they educate learners from impoverished areas.

“Load shedding has a disproportionately higher impact on the poor who unlike wealthier residents are not able to protect themselves against its impact, thus heightening the risk of further increasing inequality,” the provincial government indicates in a press statement.

The Western Cape government has handed out 96 000 relief packs so far, not only to schoolchildren, but also to people living in homeless shelters, and shelters that harbour survivors of gender-based violence.

These packs comprise of the following:

  • “Dual charging capability via solar panel or AC cable;
  • Three lighting options;
  • Rechargeable 6 V, 4ah battery – Up to 18 hours of light on a single charge;
  • Battery protection;
  • Wall-hanging mounts;
  • and Emergency USB port charges.”

There is currently a reprieve from power cuts, but as winter sets in we should, unfortunately, expect load shedding to return. We must continue to build up our energy resilience, especially in our schools,” said the premier.

Eskom is currently planning to go into Stage 2 during the winter months “at most”, a far cry from the high instability the utility was experiencing just a year prior. Eskom CEO Dan Marokane told the media that in “extreme cases” loadshedding would not exceed past Stage 5.

South Africa is seeing less loadshedding due to a better maintenance regime at generating units across the country, as well as better demand-side management from Eskom, and other interventions that have lifted the energy availability factor to 61 percent.

The Western Cape has been proactive about handling blackouts at schools across the province. In 2022, the province invested R46 million to install solar power technology at 41 schools in the Western Cape. According to its latest statement, now nearly 70 schools benefit from photovoltaic backup power schemes for when loadshedding hits.

A further 52 schools have had electricity-saving LED lighting installed.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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