Outage causes big headaches

2009-03-26 00:00

Residents who were left without power in suburbs around the citybetween Monday and yesterday braai'ed and borrowed, but were mostly annoyed about having to deal with yet another power issue.

Above: Business owner Sagran Naicker is angry about losing most of his peak time customers and some stock because of the power outage.

"I lost most of my morning teatime customers," said Sagran Naicker, the owner of Couveia's Bakery in the city centre.

Naicker said his busiest times on weekdays are between 10 am and 1 pm, for breakfast and lunch.

The power outage in the city centre began at 9 am yesterday morning and meant that he could neither serve breakfast, nor prepare lunch.

He said the power cut had cost him several hundred rands for the morning alone, and that some of his stock, like ice-cream, was damaged.

"When they melt, no one wants to buy them," he said.

"They get soft and out of shape ... [The outage] really slowed things down."

Above: Pensioner Theo van Niekerk of Mayor's Walk was happy about power being restored before 7de Laan was screened, and said he braai'ed for supper on Tuesday night.

A 63-year-old pensioner, Theo van Niekerk, said he was glad "the lights came on just before 7de Laan" on Tuesday night.

Van Niekerk, of Mayor's Walk, said that his electricity had been off since Monday, but that he and his nephew had braai'ed meat and toasted bread on their gas cooker for the two nights they sat in the dark.

"We were eating and the lights came on at 7.30 pm and we watched 7de Laan ... It's been on since then," he said.

Siphiwe Hlomgwa, an employee of Joncon Fencing, also in Mayors Walk, said the company used a generator to continue working.

"It is a 10-litre generator; it lasts for about four hours," he said.

Hlomgwa said the electricity there had been out since 11 am yesterday.

Cordwalles Preparatory School in Wembley borrowed a generator from a parent just to ensure its food supplies did not go off.

But this still wasn't enough to keep things running smoothly.

Above: (From left) Grade six pupils Qhayiya Lujiva and Julian Yeats looking frustrated about not being able to use their computers during a class yesterday at Cordwalles because of the power outage.

"We have 50 pupils boarding at the school," said principal Simon Weaver.

"There hasn't been hot water at the school since Monday, so we have a bunch of smelly children running around."

The school also hasn't been able to process report cards, "and it is the end of the term". Nor was the school able to contact parents or anyone else because its telephones operate on the mains.

"We were going to have a memorial service [today] for one of the pupils who recently passed away, but we can't contact anyone," he said.

To add to the problems, said Weaver, the school's security cameras are not able to function without electricity, and the alarm system runs off a battery when the electricity goes out.

"But the battery only lasts for about a day," he added.

Outages: Municipality stabilises power flow

Msunduzi Municipality yesterday spent time stabilising the electricity system after the protracted power failure which began on Monday night and lasted almost 24 hours in some areas.

Phil Mashoko, deputy municipal manager for infrastructure, told The Witness that the worst is over, although some parts were left without power for some time yesterday morning as some of the load on the Pine Street substation was relocated to Prince Alfred Street substation.

Mashoko said the outage occurred after the Prince Alfred Street substation tripped as extra loads were put on.

A separate cable fault resulted in parts of Clarendon being without power yesterday.

Mashoko said the municipality was optimising the load distribution across the electricity network yesterday. He described Pine Street as being "very fragile", but said he was hopeful the system would hold.

He said it is not clear why the substation had failed on Monday. Tests were still being carried out to ascertain the fault, he added.

Areas affected yesterday included parts of Wembley, Phayiphini, Sweetwaters, Clarendon and Havelock Road.

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