Durban — The City of eThekwini said it had restored power in Durban North after residents were left in the dark following a power outage in the area at the weekend.
The outage came in the wake of councillors encouraging residents to register to vote, thus throwing a spanner in the works in the fight against service delivery.
Vanessa Knight, former chairperson of the ward 36 residents’ association, spoke on the electricity outage that swept the Durban North area over the weekend.
“We have power now due to the Broadway residents taking initiative. A few of them work for the eThekwini Electricity Department, so they called in all their contacts – even those who weren’t working.
“They were kind enough to allow one of our association members to accompany them. And the member kept me posted and then I relayed that to the residents.”
The outage initially occurred on Thursday evening, she said.
“At around 5pm, there was a breaker fault and the department was trying to fix it at Effingham/Park Hill substation. Unfortunately, it broke down and led to a fire.”
She said there were two sections: there’s a row of breakers and then there’s a container with 20 “switchboards” – which is responsible for controlling where the power flows.
Four of them got damaged and the others were full of soot due to the fire, she said.
“The department cleaned up the soot and because the switchboards were damaged, wards 34, 35 and 36 were affected.
“The departments began rerouting electricity from other areas to try to get the power back on.
“However, this overloaded the system and the wards it got power from were affected, so they had to stop. By Saturday, we were all out.
“This compounded people’s problems as they were also without water. On Saturday, all our councillors were busy encouraging voters to register to vote while these problems occurred,” Knight said.
Moreover, she said the department started rewiring and then at around 2pm on Saturday, the process of switching on began.
“This process ended at around 10pm. They were phenomenal. People moan about the department all the time, but these workers went above and beyond to assist because some don’t even live nearby.
“They weren’t even getting paid overtime, they just came and helped – even today because Broadway keeps having power trips.”
Knight said her neighbour was one of the workers in the department and he sacrificed personal benefits to assist the community.
She praised the community for their efforts in assisting those who were in dire need – especially the elderly and sick.
Ward 35 councillor Nicole Bollman confirmed that the problem initially began on Thursday when one of the switchboards failed at Parkhill major substation.
She said: “Although a large percentage of properties affected by the outage were restored between Friday and Saturday, vast areas were still affected with approximately 10 substations still down while the Electricity Department worked on restoring the faults.”
There were also a few experiences with MV faults creating further frustration to areas just switched back on with new areas now included, she said.
The cause of the fire was currently unknown, she said. However, it was not the first time this year that the major Parkhill substation had forced consumers to deal with lengthy outages.
“The department did request that consumers please not use non-essential items until they’ve managed to get the system back up and stable.
“However, we are moving swiftly into summer, which has, over the past years, resulted in mini-substations igniting due to a lack of adequate maintenance, again resulting in lengthy periods without power,” Bollman advised.
eThekwini Municipality spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said: “At approximately 7.30pm, on November 16 (Thursday), areas fed from Parkhill major substation experienced an interruption of supply, which was caused by a fire at the substation.
“Areas affected by the subsequent outage were Effingham, Parkhill, Greenwood Park, Broadway, Prospect Hall, Athlone East, Glen Anil, Kernville East, Melk Houte, Redhill and Riverhorse Valley. Power has since been restored.”
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