Daily Maverick

Water supply gradually being restored to Joburg after suspected sabotage

Johannesburg residents breathed a collective sigh of relief as the water supply started gradually returning to their homes and businesses on Wednesday morning.

Nico de Jager, member of the mayoral committee for environment and infrastructure services, on Wednesday urged residents to be patient as water was being pumped to Johannesburg’s reservoirs.

“Reservoirs are filling during the day [and] Joburg Water will open them. It will take another 24 hours in some cases,” De Jager tweeted.

This follows an explosion at the Eikenhof pumping station on Monday that severely damaged a transistor needed to supply power to the City’s water infrastructure.

Numerous suburbs’ taps ran completely dry and some residents were without water for more than 48 hours.


On Tuesday, Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba issued a statement in which he said the cause of the fire at Eikenhof substation “may have been the result of a deliberate act of sabotage”.

Mashaba said the fire had originated outside the transformer at the substation.

“The transformer appeared to have been maliciously damaged so that it would leak oil into the fire,” Mashaba said.

The mayor said the suspected arson would be investigated.

The substation provides electricity to the Rand Water infrastructure that pumps water to approximately 40% of Johannesburg, as well as parts of the West Rand and Rustenburg, approximately 70km from the city of gold.

Worked around the clock

Technicians and engineers worked around the clock, pulling an all-nighter on Monday and working through Tuesday into the night to repair the transformer at the substation. Repairs were completed ahead of schedule and the social media accounts of Johannesburg Water and the City of Joburg kept residents informed of progress.

Isaac Mangena, City Power spokesperson, told News24 on Wednesday that the damage was so severe that under normal circumstances it would have taken at least 72 hours to repair.

“The dedication and hard work of the men and women who worked around the clock ensured that power was restored within 32 hours. City Power is truly grateful to each of them,” he said.

Mangena said City Power was overwhelmed by the positive response from residents who praised the efforts in their numbers on social media.

“It’s something we didn’t expect.”

Mangena said there would be a delay before water supply normalises as reservoirs that had run empty would first have to be filled up.

“Within the next 24 hours, water supply should be restored to everyone who has been affected.”

Water tankers would still be made available to residents, Mangena said.

In terms of the suspected sabotage, Mangena said: “City Power investigators are still finalising their probe. We are getting to the bottom of it. We will ensure there are proper remedial measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

Mangena said that damaged overhead lines would be reconnected on Wednesday and a new transformer would be installed to serve as a back-up system. DM

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