More woes for hadeda pylon

2014-03-26 00:00

THERE are more problems with Pietermaritzburg’s infamous “hadeda pylon”.

Besides still not being bird-proofed, one of its insulators has now broken off.

Professor Mark Laing, on whose property the pylon stands, has developed an intimate knowledge of this steel tower as every time the lights go off in Willowton and the surrounding area, he is bound to find a dead hadeda nearby.

Laing described the events on a recent evening. “Night settled and the weather turned to a misty drizzle. At about 1.30 am in the morning, the ‘hadeda pylon’ started making loud hissing sounds, for about five minutes. And then there was a huge ‘BOOM’, and then the electricity in the area cut out. It was restored later that night.

“The next morning, I went to see if a nocturnal hadeda had been blown up, but found none,” Laing said.

However, last Sunday he investigated, and discovered the cause of the explosion. One of the insulators on a high voltage cable had been blown to smithereens, with only a fragment left. Laing said that in his limited knowledge of electricity, the insulators were there to insulate the high voltage cables from each other. “If there is no insulator present, then two cables will develop an electric arc between them when we have mist and drizzle, which provides the moisture for the electricity to travel from one cable to the other in a short circuit,” he said.

According to Laing, he is not sure what the function of the “protector rod” that sits above the insulators is, and he is certain that the one in place clearly does not do its job any longer. “So I expect another explosion and a blackout for the area the next time we have drizzle and misty weather,” he said.

Laing is desperate for the troublesome pylon to be fixed once and for all. He urged Msunduzi Municipality, who owns the pylon, to call in Eskom to get the job done speedily.

He said the lightning protection cable on the pylon melted off over a year ago and has not been repaired. Msunduzi’s head of electricity Sabata Nomnganga said he had only been made aware of the latest problem when The Witness called him yesterday and said he would look into the matter today.

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