Wednesday, January 23, 2008
UK's take on SA's Power Cuts (GUARDIAN)
Power cuts a good sign, sceptical South Africans told
The South African government has told millions of people left in the dark by rolling power cuts that have swept the country over the past week, and which are likely to go on for years, to look on the bright side.
The blackouts are the result of surging demand for power caused by a booming economy, it says. But as the lights go off more frequently and for longer periods, the national mood has darkened.
Hospitals have lost power in the middle of operations, prompting doctors to warn it is only a matter of time before someone dies as a result.
Huge traffic jams have clogged cities as traffic lights, known as "robots" in South Africa, cut out. Commuters in Pretoria set fire to six trains on Friday evening after services were delayed for two hours by the loss of power.
The sound of generators, part of the background noise of many African cities, can now also be heard in Johannesburg. Restaurants coping with up to thee power outages a day are emphasising the benefits of candlelit dinners.
Being South Africa, there's also the security issue. A Johannesburg woman was robbed with a gun pressed to her head because the electronic gate to her home would not open.