No clear answer for Sharon Park residents

Ward councillor Wollaston Labuschagne in front of the Dunnottar substation which at first was supposed to solve the electricity problems in Sharon Park.

Residents of Sharon Park have been plagued by power outages for the past eight years.

The residents allege that at the first sign of inclement weather, there is a power cut.

In February, The Addie published an article in which the MMC for water, sanitation and energy, Clr Tiisetso Nketle, said theft and vandalism on Eskom equipment have been identified as main contributors of power outages.

Also read: Sharon Park electricity outages explained

Nketle further went on to say the newly upgraded substation in Dunnottar would go on to solve the problem.

In April, Themba Gadebe, spokesperson for the metro, subsequently stated the newly upgraded power station in Dunnottar would not solve the electricity problem in Sharon Park.

Also read: Sharon Park electricity outages explained

“Sharon Park doesn’t interconnect with networks in Dunnottar and they are on different voltages (11kV and 6.6kV).”

Tony Dodd, the chairperson of the Sharon Park Residents Association, then wrote a letter to the mayor in May in which he pointed out the contradictory answers.

“It thus appears that for more than eight years, EMM council being our power provider has made absolutely no effort to actually resolve our power supply issues.

“Simply put, the spin doctoring needs to end.

“We need proper and complete answers to the problem.”

Phuti Moloto, the divisional head of operations and maintenance at the energy department, has responded by saying frequent overhead line theft, vandalism, wire throwing by third parties and lightning strikes are the main contributors to unplanned power outages in the area.

When asked what was being done to resolve the electricity issue in Sharon Park, Moloto says: “Overhead lines feeding the area are inspected and maintained annually as per the Eskom Maintenance Plan.

“Eskom will from June 2018 decommission or remove about 4km of overhead lines which is expected to reduce power outages by 80 per cent as theft, vandalism, throwing wires and lightning strikes on the lines are main contributors to unplanned power outages.

Also read: Sharon Park left in the dark with constant electricity outages

“The City of Ekurhuleni is finalising the project to swing the Dunnottar area to the new substation to pave the way for removal of the overhead lines.

“Based on this intervention, the reliability of electricity supply is expected to be improved from June 2018.

“To reduce cable theft, the City of Ekurhuleni is currently evaluating a tender for the installation of an on-line early warning system on all theft prone cable routes as and when required.

“The technology includes monitoring of these underground cable routes by means of an on-line early warning system to provide early warning signals (detection of ground vibration) to the 24-hour Control and Monitoring Centre who will dispatch the reaction teams to the affected area immediately to prevent underground cable theft.

“The reaction will be almost immediately due to ad hoc 24/7 patrols for hotspot areas covered in the tender.

“Parallel to our own processes to address theft, the three Gauteng metros (Ekurhuleni, Joburg and Tshwane) established task teams in May 2018 to put together a joint strategy to deal with theft of copper, aluminium or metals based on various technologies available in the market.”

Ward councillor for Sharon Park Wollaston Labuschagne says: “I think what Moloto says makes sense and it gives perspective on the situation.

“I have communicated with the DA Member of Parliament, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone, about the situation in Sharon Park and I am not waiting for feedback from Eskom.”

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  AUTHOR
Siphokazi Zama

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