Power outages: the plan that never happened

2011-05-02 00:00

AFTER widespread power outages in the city in 2005 and 2006, the city’s electricity department did a detailed analysis that culminated in a five-year strategic plan to revamp the city’s ageing infrastructure or face a future of electricity blackouts and constant power outages.

The plan was approved by council in 2007, but according to insiders it was never carried out because the then executive committee did not make funds available.

Electricity experts warn that if the city is to save its electricity network from collapsing, it urgently needs to go back to that plan. However, they add that by now costs may have doubled or even tripled.

Phil Mashoko, the former deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services, outlined the plan in The Witness (March 30, 2009).

Mashoko said then that the second line to Hilton was to be upgraded in 2010. This was never done.

He said that by the end of 2006 the backlog profile and costs were as follows:

• The replacement of 16 transformers and switchgears — estimated cost at the time: R203 million.

• The refurbishment and upgrading of transmission lines — R42 million.

• Reinforcement of the network — R52 million

• Replacement of unsafe equipment — R141 million

• New sub-station at Crossways — R35 million.

Had the Msunduzi Municipality implemented the five-year plan in 2007, when it was approved by council, the work would have been completed in this financial year, 2011/12.

Sources say that this is the plan that gets quoted whenever questions are raised about what is being done about the failing electricity infrastructure.

This is why Mayor Mike Tarr was told that the upgrade of the Hilton line had been done because it was supposed to have been carried out in 2010, but in reality this never happened.

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