Sparking safety fears

Mountain View community members have raised concerns over unfenced electricity transformers on their streets.

The three transformers have been unfenced since the development was begun two years ago, says community worker Johann Kikillus, and residents have recently raised concerns after children were spotted playing around the transformers.

However, the City of Cape Town says there is no danger posed by the transformers and the safety of the area has only come into question after recent vandalism.

Mayco member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, confirms Mountain View is a new area development, built during the last two years. The transformers have been installed as part of this new development, he says.

“The transformers are encased in steel and designed to be operated without the requirement of additional security fencing.”

However, recently vandals have broken into the steel encasement of the transformers, with the view to steal copper bus-bars, Sonnenberg says.

It is the vandalism that would result in a safety risk, not the design of the transformers, Sonnenberg explains.

“The transformers are designed to be operated without the requirement of additional security fencing, however, the effects of vandalism could create a public safety risk. For this reason, reporting vandals and vandalism is especially important. Damaged substations can also result in surges that can damage domestic appliances,” he says.

The vandalism has forced to City to consider beefing up security around the transformers, he says.

“Due to this recurrent vandalism, the City is considering reinforcing the security around the transformers in areas identified as experiencing a high incidence of vandalism by installing a steel cage or fence, however trials in this regard have often been ineffective as the vandals simply cut through the additional security.

“The most effective way to prevent safety risks is for the community to take ownership of the infrastructure in their area and report suspicious activity.”

A steel cage costs about R200 000 and a steel fence about R100 000, explains Sonnenberg.

“It must be noted that these additional fencing measures, though a lot more robust, can also be breached by determined vandals.

As such, we ask communities to please report any suspicious activities around or near the electricity infrastructure to the police on 10111 or the City’s Metals Theft Unit on 0800 222 771.

Creating an environment in which vandals feel the consequences of their crimes is the most effective way of preventing vandalism and safeguarding municipal infrastructure.”

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