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Power outages: Call for city to keep residents updated on restoration times

Electricity pylons cut across the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg. Eskom. power outage. Picture: Karen Sandison

Electricity pylons cut across the N3 between Durban and Johannesburg. Eskom. power outage. Picture: Karen Sandison

Published May 26, 2022

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DURBAN - HEAD of electricity in eThekwini Maxwell Mthembu says the restoration of electricity supply to homes that were left without power due to the recent storms is almost complete.

He said his department was yesterday dealing with faults that had been discovered in the oThongathi area where a few streets had been affected.

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He said several mini-substations had been damaged and were being replaced.

The power outages have been a source of anger for many residents who then inundated their ward councillors with phone calls, demanding answers on when the power would be restored.

During the executive committee (exco) meeting on Tuesday, DA councillor Nicole Graham demanded answers on the state of electricity in the city, saying they had received thousands of complaints from residents who had been without power for extended periods.

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Graham demanded during the meeting that council come up with an answer to the problems and a plan to communicate with the residents in the affected areas.

“On Sunday when we had exco we raised our serious concerns that the city’s electricity situation looked very dire, the reports from inside the unit said they didn’t have stock for many substations so even though many substations had blown, they were battling to reconnect.”

She said on Sunday they had recommended that a temporary situation that would allow the public to get answers needed to be put in place.

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“There are places with repeated or long outages.

“We need to facilitate the flow of information, not just saying to people your power is out, they know their power is out.

“We need to say what the projected time frames are, feeding proper information to people so that people do not have to call the call centre 25 times,” she said.

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Mthembu said there were no catastrophic power outages in the city as a result of the recent storms.

“During the first floods, we received reports of close to 18 000 faults.”

He said the recent rains had resulted in fewer faults being reported and there were not thousands of people that were without power.

“To date almost everyone has been restored, we are now dealing with the normal faults that we receive daily, we receive around 100 faults daily as our network is huge,” said Mthembu.

Exco had demanded that Mthembu and his unit find a way to better communicate with residents to give them real-time updates, as going through the call centre was not helping and was causing more frustrations.

Mthembu said they were looking at ways of improving communication with customers.

IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the focus should be on understanding the challenge faced by the city after the damage and solving it.

“We should understand that after the storms many substations were flooded and damaged, the power might be restored quickly, but there will be outages because the substation is damaged,” he said.

Nkosi said the issue of outages was not just related to the floods, there was also the ongoing challenge of cable theft.

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