Pretoria - Swift thinking management at Pretoria Boys High School yesterday ensured a massive electricity outage did not affect the mid-year exams.
A large portion of Pretoria east and parts of Centurion were plunged into darkness after the Njala sub-station caught fire early yesterday.
However, the school management sent parents messages in the morning asking them to equip the learners with headlamps in order to write their exams in an otherwise dark hall. The boys wrote accounting, geography and business studies.
The parents came to the party - and the hall almost resembled a mine site as the learners sat for the exams.
Second master at the school John Illsley said they had warned pupils three weeks ago about being equipped for instances like this.
Ilsley said they told pupils about investing in good headlight gear for exams. “We were actually doing it as a precautionary measure for load shedding. But it looks like it came in handy with all the recent power outages. The city has been inundated with sporadic outages over the past few weeks.”
According to the MMC of Utility Services Abel Tau, the outage was caused by a switch - a transformer reserve busbar isolator - which exploded in the early hours of yesterday morning.
It affected Mooikloof, Wapdrand, Waltloo, Mamelodi, Willows, Pumulani, Pyramid, Koedoespoort, Highlands, Lynnwood, Brooklyn, Villieria Wingate Park, Aries, Kloofsig, Lyttelton and Die Hoewes.
Telephone lines were down at schools. On the roads it was chock-a-block as commuters made their way into and out of town.
There was major congestion on all roads, traffic lights were non-functional and motorists were advised to treat all intersections as four- way stops.
Traffic congestion continued to intensify as various traffic lights in and around the city weren’t functioning even after power was restored.
The high traffic volumes were on the N4, R21, N14 into and out of Pretoria, which remained heavily backed up for the better part of the morning.
Naturally, disgruntled residents, who said the blackout came swiftly and without warning or explanation, took to social media to voice their frustrations.
They complained about being stuck in traffic, closed shops and being unable to work in spaces where back-up was either limited or unavailable.
Executive mayor Stevens Mokgalapa and Tau visited the Njala sub-station to get first-hand information on the situation.
“An efficient and dedicated team of technicians was swiftly dispatched and it was able to switch back Wingate, Aries, Kloofsig, Mirage, Mooikloof, Die Hoewes and Waltloo at about 10am,” said Tau.
He urged consumers to be conservative in using power as technicians were hard at work trying to restore power.
“The city’s customers in some areas such as Highlands, Willows, Lynnwood and CSIR are advised to reduce electricity usage in order to enable the deployed team of technicians time to stabilise power supply,” he said.
The cost to repair the sub-station was yet to be quantified.