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Four days and counting – Tshwane says power restored to 40% of areas following pylons collapse

Four days and counting – Tshwane says power restored to 40% of areas following pylons collapse
City of Tshwane and Eskom employees attend to one of the collapsed pylons in Silver lakes, East of Pretoria on 11 April, 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

At least 23 areas are still without power after the seven-pylon collapse along the N4 east freeway between Solomon Mahlangu and Simon Vermooten roads, which has left most city residents in the dark since Sunday. The City says it intends to restore power to all affected areas by Thursday evening.

As of Wednesday evening, power was partially restored in Mamelodi and other surrounding areas through processes of backfeeding and redirecting electricity from other infeed stations to primary substations. 

According to the City of Tshwane, backfeeding of Silverton, Koedoespoort and Riviera took place on Tuesday evening and early on Wednesday morning.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Collapsed pylons – 48 hours in the dark and counting for many Tshwane residents, City asks Eskom for help

“On Wednesday afternoon, the team managed to backfeed Waterloo, Heatherly to Mamelodi extensions 1, partially extension 2 and 3,” said City spokesperson Selby Bokaba.

Tshwane pylons collapse

City of Tshwane and Eskom employees attend to one of the collapsed pylons in Silver lakes, east of Pretoria, on Tuesday 11 April, 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

The City says it aims to restore power to all affected areas by Thursday evening.

“Tshwane residents are the number one priority to restore power that has been off since Sunday. In doing so we are following two approaches;

  • Restoring the 132kv line which ran on the pylons and procuring pylons;
  • Restore power by rerouting electricity to as much of the affected areas as possible about 40%,” said Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink.

Clarifying why some areas have seen power restored and not others, Brink said, “For technical reasons, some areas can be backfed and some areas can’t. We have however spoken to officials for urgent alternative ways to restore power to those areas which can’t be backfed.”

Bokaba added that; “the City intended to ensure every area was backfed by end of business yesterday, and the objective was realised. All the areas are back, except where we picked up faults or there was cable theft or vandalism.”

As of Thursday morning, the following areas were still without power:

Baviaanspoort Prison, Queenswood, Boschkop, Derdepoort (Zambezi Manor), Glenway Estate, Kameeldrift, Leeuwfontein, Mamelodi, Montana Park, Moregloed, Pumulani, Roodepark, Sable Hills, Sinoville, Vastfontein Ext, Waterval, Waverley, Woodlands, Zeekoegat, Koedoespoort Industrial, Nellmapius, Bultfontein, and Phumulani. 

Meanwhile, social media users and residents have taken to Twitter to vent their anger about being without power. Others accused the City of prioritising more affluent areas in the restoration process. Some users also suggested that the City had long known about the likelihood of the pylons’ collapse but chose to ignore it.

An expected incident?

In October 2022, a Twitter user under the name “Martin” warned the City of Tshwane that the integrity of the power lines in question were compromised. 

Another Twitter user and resident in the City of Tshwane, Charl Joubert, tweeted: “Any updates on when the cripple city of Tshwane will have our electricity restored In Queenswood.? Third power failure in a month of longer than 48 hours.”

“I’m starting to think the vehement assertion that this is the work of vandals might be a smokescreen to cover up for the City of Tshwane’s shortcomings. I really hope it is not the case for your own good,” tweeted another user.

A user claiming to be a long-term City of Tshwane resident tweeted, “I am not surprised by the collapse of these pylons, it happened before way back in 2013 in the Rosslyn area. The City with a big contingent of its police force should by now have a clear strategy for the protection of its infrastructure.”

“The self-same officials were warned a year ago. What transpired after receiving that tip-off? How many other warnings from the public are they sitting on? How many preventable disasters is the City sitting on?” another user asked.

In response to questions about action taken by the City following public tipoffs about the pylons’ integrity being compromised last year, Bokaba told Daily Maverick:

“The vandalised seven pylons are assets of the City for the distribution of electricity from infeed stations to other primary distribution substations. The City carries out inspections on its infrastructure and when there are incidents of vandalism of the infrastructure, the maintenance team does repairs and, continuously the vandals revisit the infrastructure once repairs are done to damage. It’s an endless cycle. Due to the stretch of the network, it’s impractical to guard the lines and City implores the media to spread the message to communities to report any suspicious activities to SAPS or to Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD).”

Bokaba added, “The narrative that affluent areas have been prioritised is false as the restorations are a product of system design and capacity of conductor. As the northern part was also fed from the same Njala infeed station, it requires that protection headings be changed to allow the possibility of backfeeding Watloo and Mamelodi whilst the other area was back-fed from the other rings.” DM


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