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Bad weather blamed for power outages

Oil circuit breakers trip in wet, windy conditions, Bobani says

The first outage was caused by circuit breakers for Kragga Kamma tripping at the Ditchling substation.
The first outage was caused by circuit breakers for Kragga Kamma tripping at the Ditchling substation.

Bad weather, faulty overhead lines and oil circuit breakers tripping.

These were just some of the reasons for the rolling power outages that hit Nelson Mandela Bay at the weekend.

Infrastructure and engineering political head Mongameli Bobani said the wet, windy weather had played a large part in the outages.

It all started on Saturday morning when thousands of residents woke up with no electricity, and what followed were more outages as officials scrambled to restore electricity around the city.

The first outage was caused by circuit breakers for Kragga Kamma tripping at the Ditchling substation.

In September, the city was hit with a power outage every day, on average. These were not linked to load-shedding.

All this happened as businesses and residents struggled with water outages, load-shedding and Covid-19 setbacks, and the constant power outages created even more havoc.

After the first outage on Saturday, a handful more followed, with the outages affecting the pump stations and leaving some areas without water.   

Surprisingly, there was no outrage from residents when asked at the Greenacres mall about the outages, which gave a completely different message to those who went online to vent.

Sonja Norman, 39, of Kensington, said her daughter had been upset because she could not cook breakfast for her mom, but they had ended up eating a sandwich.

“We didn’t have to wait for long. It was raining so we couldn’t do laundry in any case.”

A man who asked to remain anonymous said he had to turn some customers away from his store.

“Luckily the municipality fixed the issue in a short amount of time, which saved the situation,” he said.

An elderly resident said she just opened her bible and prayed. “I wasn’t irritated though.”

Bobani said a transformer was offline due to maintenance and two others were hit with minor faults.

“However, most faults were weather related as during wet conditions the insulation of the air is compromised, which causes arcing and then flashovers.”

On Sunday afternoon, Bobani warned residents of possible water disruptions.

“The municipality is experiencing difficulties supplying water to certain storage reservoirs due to an electrical fault.”

“Residents are urged to reduce water consumption to prevent disruptions.

“The municipality also requests that residents do not stockpile as this will accelerate the depletion of storage.”

According to the Bay’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP), the city’s  electricity network is a mixture of aged and relatively new infrastructure, “the majority being older, with some equipment older than 40 years”.

“It is therefore urgent that major upgrades, refurbishment and replacements take place.

“The current condition of the electrical infrastructure requires a major injection of funds and manpower to bring it to acceptable conditions in line with national standards and the expectation of  electricity  users.”

R700m is needed to upgrade some of the city’s 3,000 substations, overhead lines and cables.

Businesses, already struggling to deal with Covid-19, water shortages and load-shedding, are hardest hit as no warnings are given beforehand.

The outages are costing them their hard-earned revenue, with some power disruptions lasting several hours at a time.



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