Communities affected by the mass power outage in Karoo should have their power fully restored by next Thursday, according to Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and his MEC of Local Government, Environmental Affairs, and Development Planning, Anton Bredell.
The two public representatives provided an update on the matter in a media briefing on Thursday.
They said there were coordinated efforts to restore electricity to towns in the Central Karoo, Garden Route and Overberg regions. They were joined by Colin Deiner, head of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre and Eskom's general manager for the Cape Coast Cluster, Mbulelo Yedwa.
Yedwa said the utility was aiming to fully restore power to affected communities in the Karoo by February 15.
Repair teams were working around the clock to complete this task as soon as possible, with Eskom also advising that power was restored in the Overberg region on Wednesday night.
"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," said Yedwa.
In the Karoo region, the towns of Fraserburg, Ladismith, Laingsburg, Leeu Gamka, Matjiesfontein, Merweville, Prince Albert, Roggeveld, and Swartberg were still without power.
Deiner said the PDMC's Joint Operating Centre (JOC) is coordinating all disaster management efforts and is providing assistance to Eskom where needed. In addition to these measures, critical services are being protected as far as possible, including health, education, and food security.
Regarding health services, all hospitals in affected 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; and 15,000 litres of water has been transported by the Western Cape Government to support hospitals in Prince Albert and Laingsburg.
Concerning education, nine schools have been affected in the Karoo area, but no school has been closed due to the current situation. While the supply of water remains a risk, schools have received water to ensure that teaching and learning can continue.
On the topic of food security, the Department of Agriculture is conducting assessments, and additional funding for diesel and water has been approved, while meetings are held daily to discuss the impact on food security, and authorities are looking to find solutions to maintain the cold chain, which has become pivotal to food security.
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.
Premier Winde stated: "This has been a mammoth task, but we will continue to provide support to all affected towns for as long as necessary. Tragically, one person has died and another has been hospitalized in Leeu Gamka after it is suspected that they were overcome by fumes from a generator."
Winde and Bredell offered their heartfelt condolences to the family and loved ones, and urged residents to adhere to safety guidelines when using alternative energy sources.
Winde and Bredell, as well as officials at the PDMC, have been holding daily meetings with Eskom and other stakeholders to receive regular updates on this recovery operation.
Work on the collapsed line in the Karoo is progressing to schedule, with all the major material, equipment, and contractors on-site. Bredell confirmed that several large generators will be installed on Thursday in the business centres of Laingsburg, Prince Albert, and Ladismith.
"These generators will enable us to provide limited power to parts of these towns," he said.