- Johannesburg is pleading with Eskom for a three-day exemption from loadshedding.
- Heavy rains and power cuts have crippled the city’s electricity infrastructure and loadshedding delays restoration efforts.
- This weekend saw mass outages across Africa’s wealthiest city and City Power says it is in “Disaster Mode” to resolve these problems.
The executive mayor of Johannesburg Mpho Phalatse has sent an urgent request to Eskom for the city to be exempt from loadshedding for three days.
This is due to the “insurmountable challenge of escalating faults and outages post torrential rain in Gauteng,” according to a statement published on Twitter by MMC: environment and infrastructure services department Michael Sun.
“Given the urgent need for City Power to attend to the widespread and escalating faults, the entity has expressed its concern that loadshedding is not only causing additional faults and stress on the network, but also preventing the entity from being able to effectively attend to outages,” said Sun.
Mayor Phalatse said that power lines and infrastructure can’t be worked on when there is no power, and thus she has submitted the urgent request from South Africa’s power utility.
The weekend saw Johannesburg residents battling with widespread power outages. In some areas, residents were without electricity for over 50 hours by Monday morning. The city’s energy infrastructure utility City Power said that on Saturday morning, its call centre had received over 4 700 calls about outages.
Half of the callers reported they were bereft of electricity in their homes for more than 24 hours.
“City Power apologises to its customers across the city who have been hit by widespread outages. The recent storms and heavy rains as well as Stage 5 and 6 loadshedding has also worsened the situation,” the utility said in a Twitter post.
The worst impacted areas include those around Hursthill and Roodepoort substations. Thousands of calls originated from these zones. But residents experienced outages from Randburg, Inner City, Witpoortjie, Alexandra, Soweto, Lenasia and more.
City Power’s Twitter account was inundated with furious Joburgers seeking answers and updates as thousands suffered from power cuts due to unplanned outages and Stage 5 loadshedding.
Some residents in Ruimsig have been without electricity for close to a week now, reports EWN.
City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava reportedly pulled “in all resources to pressure points” to expedite responses from technicians and urged residents to remain patient as it battles with “the backlogs as a result of the heavy storms as well as loadshedding effects.”
Tshepisong has lost power after lines have blown down after heavy rains. Eskom team is en- route to site to asses the lines and being with restorations.^TM pic.twitter.com/nsr5JVyS5Z
— @CityPowerJhb (@CityPowerJhb) December 10, 2022
Heavy storm winds and flooding have been a major issue that City Power technicians have faced in recent weeks as unceasing rains sweep through Africa’s richest city.
Teams struggling through the flooded underground tunnels in Joburg CBD where we are busy with the repairs.
These are some of the challenges we go through following the heavy storms. pic.twitter.com/8hkQcuE1XQ
— @CityPowerJhb (@CityPowerJhb) December 9, 2022
The utility said it has been in “disaster mode” since the heavy thunderstorms on Monday last week. Spokesperson Isaac Mangena said that flooding has severely hampered restoration efforts.
“These include the flooded chambers, submerged minisub stations, washed up poles, eroded cables and cable faults with some popping in the aftermath of the heavy storms. Heavy rains of yesterday made matters worse in areas such as Lenasia and Roodepoort where there is huge flooding currently,” Mangena told The Citizen.
A mini substation exploded along Peacock Avenue in Lenasia, one that technicians will only be able to attend to once the flooding dissipates. Further, roads around Klipspruit, Florida, and some parts of Roodepoort are flooded, which makes it difficult for City Power to respond.
“We are anticipating that it will take us over a week to recover – weather allowing – with most of the problems expected to be picked up as the storms clear up,” the spokesperson said.
Johannesburg’s embattled residents can breathe a slight sigh of relief if the mayor’s request is granted, but this is doubtful as Johannesburg represents some of the country’s largest urban areas.
Eskom will have to make energy available to cover the city. Energy which it simply does not have as it is experiencing multiple generation unit breakdowns across its stations, thus the need for Stage 5 loadshedding or higher.