Concern over live power cables

2015-08-05 06:00
For the past three months Mukhtaar Abrahams has been waiting for this waterlogged hole, with live electric cables in it, to be closed. 
theo jeptha

: For the past three months Mukhtaar Abrahams has been waiting for this waterlogged hole, with live electric cables in it, to be closed. Photo: theo jeptha

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Are we waiting for someone to die first before something is done?

This is the question that ward councillor Jonathan Lawack and West End residents is asking about a waterlogged hole containing live electricity cables in a street where many children play.

“Three months ago, municipal workers dug a hole in front of my garage, without my permission,” said Samieg Abrahams, a resident of St Hillary Street.

This happened shortly after residents complained to the municipality about constant power cuts. Municipal workers left electric cables in the open hole and reassured residents that it would be closed shortly.

“For the past three months now, whenever the electricity goes off, municipal workers come to fix the cables, and leave again, but the hole is never closed,” said another resident in the street, Najmoeneesa Largadien.

Due to the heavy rain that has fallen in recent weeks, the hole has filled up with water.

On Saturday, July 25, after heavy rains fell, residents heard an explosion in the hole.

“When we looked outside the window all we could see was sparks coming from the hole,” said Abrahams. After the explosion, residents were left without electricity for eight days.

Mthubanzi Mniki, municipal spokesperson, said the holes were not supposed to be open and that the matter was being investigated.

Mniki said the municipality could not respond to electrical outages last week due to the strike and limited staff members.

“The cables were fixed on Friday (July 31), but there was another explosion and we were left without electricity again. On Saturday they came to fix it again,” Abrahams saod.

At time of going to print on Monday, the residents had electricity, but were concerned about the waterlogged hole still being open.

“There are a lot of children in the neighbourhood. One of them might fall in the water and be shocked to death,” said Mukhtaar Abrahams, another resident of St Hillary Street.

Mniki said the municipality would investigate why the hole was not being closed.

Lucas Bowles, regional director of the Electrical Contractors’ Association (SA) East/South Cape Region, called on the municipality to address the situation as a matter of urgency as the temporary connections were dangerous and people, children and animals had easy access to the area.

He said that while the connections looked dangerous at first glance, one had to keep in mind that these were just temporary and were done in emergencies to restore electricity to residents. The permanent connections could only be done in totally dry circumstances as any moisture in the cables would only lead to another fault.

“The continuous rain and higher water table in recent weeks, as well as the strike by municipal workers, have resulted in permanent repairs taking longer than usual,” Bowles said.

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