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Load Shedding and School Holidays

Posted By Gideon van den Berg, Wednesday, 15 May 2019

It’s school holidays and my children are at home. And they are bored. I suppose every generation stares in awe at their children who cannot see or comprehend the privileges they enjoy. I may as well “own” their boredom since I have through much grace and hard work, been able to put them exactly in this position. I’d like to come back to that analogy in a minute.

With the recent bout of load shedding – despite any previous events, I was again caught off guard. No torches (with batteries) nor a generator. At least we have a gas stove, but we struggled to find the  igniter. You may have a similar story.

There is a connection between my children who are bored despite having broadband internet, Lego etc, and my unprepared state for load shedding. That is of course: privilege. Not the politically loaded “privilege,” but the fact that engineers are working and succeeding (to a degree) to keep the power on. The privilege is being oblivious to the facts – being able to go about your business without having to worry about that as well.

End of innocence
While it is unclear where South Africa’s infrastructure is heading, this may be our childhood end. We are all aware of the fact that things are not as steady as we once believed. There is a lighter counterpoint in that engineers may just have gotten their “We told you so!” moment. Engineering, maintenance and the related procurement systems are now in the spotlight. We can be of critical value if we are able to put forward informed alternatives and opinions.

The catch is that apart from your neighbours and relatives who will take your advice on quotes for solar panels, geysers, generators with automatic changeover switches etc, your activism will not take you very far. You will need a platform and leverage for your campaign.

Actually, you already have those things at your disposal – your local SAIMechE Committee! Through your committee, it is really just two steps to pretty much anyone within ECSA or any other VA or collection of VAs.

Politics and the public can be influenced, if we manage ourselves as a trusted source of guidance and information. That is exactly what we were trained to do, but I don’t think we are stepping up to the plate like we should.

The take-away is this: make sure that you are informed – and then be very opinionated! And go make some waves at your local branch.

Gideon van den Berg
MSAIMechE
Pr. Eng

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