Hadeda’s pylon crash blacks out PMB

2014-01-11 00:00

A HADEDA and a single pylon that has not been bird-proofed caused yesterday’s major power outage in Pietermaritzburg.

This is not the first time.

There have been at least two other incidents, with the last major “hadeda outage” in June 2011. Then, like now, it wiped out power in several suburbs including Willowton, the CBD, Hayfields, Mountain Rise, Eastwood, Cleland, Manor and Woodlands.

Fortunately, this time the outage did not last long. The power went off at 8.20 am and came back on at 10.38 am.

Professor Mark Laing, on whose property the faulty pylon stands, said he had alerted both the Msunduzi Municipality and Eskom to the problem several times, but so far there has been no action.

Laing said his property is between two major power substations — one in the Willowton area and the other in the Scottsville area. There are six pylons carrying cables between the two substations and two of these are on his property.

He said the ill-fated hadedas avoided the other pylons because of the spikes on them but kept flying into this particular one, which was not bird-proofed.

Whenever there is an outage they are sure to find a dead hadeda at the bottom of the pylon.

Laing said the same pylon was hit by lightning a year ago. Pylons have two lightning cables that do not carry electricity but deflect current when there is a lighting strike, he said, and one of these cables fell as a result of the lightning strike.

“Eskom was supposed to have fixed it but have done nothing so far. Eskom workers arrived, removed the hanging cable left it on the ground and now the pylon is not only vulnerable to hadedas but to a lightning strike as well.”

He stressed that these two seemingly minor problems needed urgent fixing as the pylon links substations that serve the largest industrial areas in this city. “These outages must be causing major production losses,” he said.

Msunduzi spokesperson Nqobile Madondo asked for Laing’s contact details, saying the current management were not aware of the problem and would get in touch with him.

Eskom also undertook to investigate the matter.

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