Another major blackout

2011-08-29 00:00

WHILE residents of Hilton, Sweetwaters and Blackridge lit candles and powered up their gas cylinders and generators during an overnight power outage that began on Saturday, they hoped that the municipality was working on the fault.

However, it seems that for more than 12 hours no one was doing anything to restore power at all as the area where the fault occurred was too remote.

Residents experienced a gloomy weekend following a lengthy power outage that began on Saturday evening and continued all day yesterday.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma told The Witness yesterday they expected power to be restored by eight oçlock last night, but by late evening it was still out.

Contrary to rumours that the outage was caused by sabotage as a result of striking workers, Zuma said a tree had fallen on one of the key lines to Hilton, causing the line to snap.

He said technicians could not work on the problem on Saturday night as the break in the line was located in a relatively inaccessible area “in the bushes”.

They instead had to wait for daylight to address the problem and began work at around 7am.

Besides the blackout in Hilton, residents of Montrose, Oak Park, Clarendon, Prestbury and other areas also had to make do without electricity on Saturday evening, although power to these areas was restored relatively quickly.

The incidents added to the service delivery woes experienced by local residents over the past few weeks.

The Witness was inundated with calls from angry and frustrated residents throughout yesterday.

Robert Robinson of Hilton said yesterday repeated attempts to contact the municipal call centre were in vain.

“It’s a musical roundabout,” he said describing how the caller gets pushed from one pre-recorded message to another.

“I believe that Sweetwaters and Blackridge are also without power. In all these areas there are a lot of elderly people, who really battle

“How can the capital of the province’s services be run like this? It’s a joke.”

Many irate residents told The Witness that they had been unable to get through to the call centre at all.

Zuma confirmed that the call centre was off-line for parts of the weekend, as the outages had affected the CBD too.

Zuma said that although there had been a reasonable improvement in attendance, many employees “were still effectively on strike, as they did very little work”.

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