PMB’s power struggle

2013-01-09 00:00

WHILE many areas around the city remained without electricity yesterday after Sunday’s ferocious storm, Msunduzi municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said power should be restored to all areas by Friday.

He said some areas would have electricity back on today. Among the worst-hit are Sweetwaters, Hilton and Vulindlela.

“You’ll find that on one line there are 20 trees interfering with it. These trees had to be felled and dealt with before the line could be restored.”

Nkosi said there were 35 teams in the field clearing trees and working to restore electricity to parts of the city and the surrounding areas. Contractors and temporary employees had been pulled in to help.

“We’re asking residents to be patient with us because this is big.”

While driving from Taylor’s Halt, where he had been to inspect storm damage yesterday, he received a call that a transformer had blown up in Sobantu.

The municipality had already used all the spare electricity panels it had in stock, and it need 12 more to repair other damaged transformers, he said. The panels had been ordered, but delivery usually took six to 12 weeks.

Msunduzi had also sought help from eThekwini Municipality and Eskom, he added.

Nkosi visited Imbali, Ashdown and Hilton, and declared the storm damage was the worst disaster he had experienced in his tenure as municipal manager.

He said the crews had cleared 95% of uprooted trees that had blocked roads in and around the city.

Sabatha Nomnganga, head of the electricity department, said his teams had been working “24/7” to get power back on.

“I am on site as we speak. We have been visiting rural areas and suburbs,” he said.

Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said the department had provided uMgungundlovu district with support and he believed they were competent enough to deal with the disaster.

Melanie Veness, of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business, said most businesses affected by the outages were those which operated from home, like bed-and-breakfast establishments.

Many residents have made alternative arrangements to get power and Makro said its stock of petrol generators were depleted at the start of the week.

Chan Bridgemohan of Pietermaritzburg gas distributor Capital Gas said he had seen an increase in sales since Monday.

“We have seen a substantial increase in the sale of gas. We have sold about double the amount we normally do, and we have also seen an increase in the sale of appliances such as gas stoves and cookers,” he said.

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