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Business proposes time zones to lift power burden

| Economic factors

The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry has proposed that South Africa be divided into four time zones to help alleviate the country's power crisis, acting CEO Peggy Drodskie said on Thursday.

"The power is no longer an Eskom problem, it's a national problem," she told reporters in Johannesburg.

The four time zones would be a temporary solution, allowing some provinces to start their working day earlier, and others later.

Drodskie said this could be done voluntarily or by proclamation.

This was an immediate solution and would relieve pressure on the grid.

Another immediate solution was to allow businesses to operate in shifts, without compensating labour for working outside normal hours.

Sacci members, she said, suggested that some businesses operate from 08:00 to 16:00, others from 16:00 to midnight, and the remainder from midnight to 08:00.

"This was done in China by government decree. We could consider a proclamation."

Another suggestion was to implement a three-shift system at the Medupi and Kusile power stations to speed up their entry to the grid.

Proposed medium-term solutions, taking between four weeks to three months, included getting all industries that generated their own power to sell it to the grid.

Other proposals were to collect outstanding debt owed to municipalities, generate power offshore using barges, and implement power generation from waste operations by private sector operators.

Drodskie said long-term proposals included privatising Eskom, inviting foreign investors to build power stations ranging from nuclear to solar and wind power, and to reduce the reliance on cross-subsidisation of services from income to electricity.

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