Power outages: Byo informal industries turn to night routine

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

BULAWAYO’s small businesses operating in areas known as home industries have resorted to operating at night in a bid to beat the country’s power load-shedding schedule.

Zesa’s 18-hour schedule has impacted negatively on the economy and small to medium enterprises are no different.

The power-shedding has resulted in most places spending the whole day without electricity and only accessing power during the night.

“These days, I now start working around 10pm when the electricity comes back. The electricity goes back again between 5am and 6am in the morning. That is the time which I knock off and go to sleep.

“At first it was difficult to cope but I have now adjusted to the new working routine,” said Wonder Fofo, a furniture maker in Tshabalala high density suburb.

Fofo, who employs six other people, said he supplies chairs wardrobes, kitchen cabinets and chairs to big furniture retail outlets.

“When the power cuts started, I lost a lot of revenue because of unfulfilled orders. After the realisation that the power cuts are here to stay, I decided to work at night to feed my family. Initially, my wife was against the idea but now she is very supportive,” he said.

Another informal trader, Isaac Ncube who operates a welding business in Kelvin North, said he has also resorted to working during the night to avert loss of business.

“Because of the current power cuts, most of the traders at Kelvin North home industries now work during the night. Most of the time, we do not have electricity during the day.

“We hope with the coming of the summer season, the electricity situation is going to improve so that we revert back to our normal ways of doing business,” said Ncube.

Several companies face possible closure due to persistent power cuts which have led to decreased production.

The power challenges have also been compounded by the shortage of diesel for generators.

According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), several companies have been forced to send workers home as operations have been halted by the power cuts.