Outages: cable theft a major challenge

2012-02-17 00:00

RUNAWAY cable theft, and not only ageing infrastructure, was a major contributor to Pietermaritzburg’s regular power outages, the city’s executive committee (Exco) heard yesterday.

Sewdutt Nagasar, the acting electricity process manager, told the committee that while funding had been provided to resolve the challenges of ageing infrastructure, cable theft had become a major challenge.

The Independent Development Trust had begun its work to assess the current and future electricity supply and demand challenges in the city, in view of the ageing infrastructure.

Nagasar said: “The theft of electricity cables and vandalism of electricity infrastructure is rife.”

Due to cable theft, industries in the Willowton industrial area had been experiencing major outages.

“The services of private security companies are used to guard these cables, but due to the length of the cable run and terrain it is difficult for the security companies to patrol the entire run,” said Nagasar.

These services by security companies were directly charged to the department’s repair and maintenance vote and was depleting its operating budget.

Overhead electricity conductors and cables were regularly being stolen in the Copesville/Mattison area.

Nagasar added: “Our staff are threatened when responding to complaints in these areas and have to be accompanied by municipal security and at times police.”

Nagasar said cable theft was a country- and worldwide problem.

The recent power outages in Wembley were as a result of cable theft along the railway reserve in Victoria Road and Chapel Street.

As a result of theft, steel had to be welded instead of bolted on six electricity pylons in the Bishopstowe/Mattison area.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said the thefts needed to be reported to the police.

He gave Exco members until the next Exco meeting to come up with a contingency plan to deal with the cable theft crisis.

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