Substation explosion not music to listeners’ ears

Umhlobo Wenene FM current affaires programme Laphum’khwezi presenter Mkhokeli Bandla is one of the presenters who could not go on-air due to the blackout.
Umhlobo Wenene FM current affaires programme Laphum’khwezi presenter Mkhokeli Bandla is one of the presenters who could not go on-air due to the blackout.
Image: supplied

Umhlobo Wenene FM’s 5.6m listeners were stunned on Monday when the country’s second biggest radio station went off-air for the first time in recent history due to a power outage.

An explosion at a municipal substation in Newton Park knocked out half of Port Elizabeth’s power supply, Nelson Mandela Bay municipal spokesperson Mzobanzi Jikazana said.

The current affairs show, Laphum’khwezi, broadcast from 5.30am to 6.30am and the popular Breakfast Eyondlayo Ekuseni (BEE) broadcast from 6.30am to 9am fell away due to the power outage.

BEE, hosted by Phiwo Nozewu, Mafa Bavuma and Mluleki Ntsabo, is the station’s drawcard, boasting three million listeners, while Laphum’khwezi attracts two million listeners.

The station was forced to play jazz before Cape Town-based midday show presenter, Spitch Nzawumbi, took over by broadcasting an unscheduled show from the SABC Sea Point studios.

The SABC has apologised to its listeners for the outages.

In a statement, spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said: “The SABC would like to apologise for the disruption of broadcast services on Umhlobo Wenene FM from early this morning.”

Mthembu said the disruption of broadcast services was due to an explosion at a power substation within the proximity of the SABC premises in Port Elizabeth.

The station turned to broadcasting from an outside broadcast vehicle and as its technical team worked on fully restoring the broadcast services.

By 9am, the station’s news bulletins were read from the outside vans while municipal workers were working on fixing the substation.

A presenter of one of the shows said: “What happened is worse than load-shedding. We have never experienced anything like this before.”

Jikazana said the outage affected “large” parts of the metro.

“Staff from the electricity and energy department have worked tirelessly to restore supply as soon as they could. There was a fault between the Chatty and Ditchling main substations which affected half the city. Supply has now been restored to most of the areas, leaving only a small percentage of Gelvandale without power, which staff are still working around the clock to restore.

"Though no time frame is available, 99.5% of the areas have been restored.”

malibongwed@dispatch.co.za


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