In a briefing held by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and the provincial MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning, Anton Bredell, Eskom said it was working flat-out to restore electricity to affected communities across the province.
On Saturday, the Central Karoo, Garden Route, and Overberg areas were left without electricity when Eskom suffered multiple power-line failures due to thunderstorms.
The briefing, which was also attended by head of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre (PDMC), Colin Deiner and Eskom’s general manager for the Cape Coast Cluster, Mbulelo Yedwa.
Yedwa said the power utility was aiming to fully restore power to affected communities in the Karoo by Thursday, however, he stressed repair teams are working flat out to complete the task earlier.
He also advised power has been restored to the Overberg region on Wednesday evening.
“We have been offering all the support we can to Eskom and will continue to do so until every single household and business in the Central Karoo, Garden Route, and Overberg areas have electricity restored, following the weekend’s stormy conditions.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and receiving regular updates from Eskom and ensuring that if there is any support we can offer, we step in immediately to help expedite repairs,” Winde said.
Municipalities in affected areas are being assisted wherever possible.
Winde further thanked civil society organisations for stepping in to help.
In the Karoo, Fraserburg, Ladismith, Laingsburg, Leeu Gamka, Matjiesfontein, Merweville, Prince Albert, Roggeveld, and Swartberg towns are still without power.
Deiner said the PDMC’s Joint Operating Centre (JOC) is coordinating all disaster management efforts and is giving Eskom all assistance where needed.
In addition, it was also stated critical services are being protected as far as possible.
– All hospitals affected in these areas are running on generators.
– The re-establishment of a borehole at Laingsburg health facility is being investigated to provide non-potable water to the facility.
– 15,000 litres of water has been transported by the Western Cape Government to support hospitals in Prince Albert and Laingsburg.
– Nine schools have been affected in the Karoo area.
– No school has been closed due to the current situation.
– While water supply remains a risk, schools have received water to ensure learning continues.
– The Department of Agriculture continues assessments and additional funding for diesel and water have been approved.
– Various departments and stakeholders meet daily to discuss the impact on food security; the impact on businesses and ways in which to support affected businesses.
– Without consistent electricity, the ability to keep food cold has become a risk. Therefore, finding solutions to maintain the cold chain has become pivotal; and
– Environmental Health Practitioners have been deployed to investigate food quality at stores to ensure that residents do not become sick from consuming food which has gone off.
“This has been a mammoth task, but we will continue to provide support to all affected towns for as long as is necessary. Tragically, one person has died and another has been hospitalised in Leeu Gamka after it is suspected that they were overcome by fumes from a generator,” Winde said.
Residents have been urged to adhere to safety guidelines when using alternative energy sources.
“It buoys me knowing that when disasters like this strike, we are able to rally support from all quarters with the common purpose of helping communities, particularly the most vulnerable.
“This is a very difficult time and my thoughts are with them daily,” Winde said.
Winde, Bredell and officials at the PDMC have been holding daily meetings with Eskom and other stakeholders to receive regular updates on the recovery operation.
On Wednesday, the power utility confirmed that faults on the Hawston-Farmer 1 line in the Overstrand have been restored. But to safely return power to the system, a “cold start” is necessary. This may lead to intermittent outages, but these will be addressed as and where they happen.
It further stated work on the collapsed line in the Karoo is progressing on schedule, with all major material, equipment and contractors on the site.
Bredell confirmed several large generators will be installed in the business centres of Laingsburg, Prince Albert, and Ladismith.
Laingsburg will receive a 350kVA generator from the Provincial Department of Health and Wellness.
Prince Albert will receive a 650kVA generator for the Provincial Department of Health and Wellness, and a 315kVA generator from Eskom.
Ladismith will receive a 315kVA generator from Eskom, as well as a 110kVA generator from the Garden Route District Municipality to support their drinking water system.
“These generators will enable us to provide limited power to parts of these towns,” Bredell said.
He said that needs assessments are continuing in affected communities and government is coordinating relief donations to vulnerable citizens.
“We want to thank all entities and individuals who are working with us. A special word of thanks to Gift of the Givers, Heal our Land, Vodacom, MTN, AfriForum, and DHL for their support thus far,” Bredell said.