WATCH | Power slowly being restored in Joburg after heavy rains

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  • Areas in Johannesburg West have had power restored after days in the dark.
  • On Monday, City Power was restoring substations which had tripped after the heavy rains.
  • The city requested Eskom exempt it from load shedding for 72 hours to enable the fixing of damaged infrastructure.

After at least 24 hours without electricity, most lights should be back on in Witpoortjie and Grobler Park in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg. 

Some residents have been without power for three days. 

On Monday, City Power got 50% of power back at the Manufacta Substation, where a mini substation blew up on Saturday due to cables being exposed to water during the heavy rains.

City Power Roodepoort Service Delivery Centre GM Sibusiso Xulu said the station could not be restored to 100% ether because there may be faults in certain feeder boards or because turning it on at total capacity could cause it to trip again.

City Power was also able to get the Reefhaven Switching Station back to 80% power, which had been restored to parts of Lindhaven, Grobler Park, and surrounding areas.

On Monday, Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse, requested Eskom to grant the city an urgent reprieve from load shedding for three days "to meet the nearing insurmountable challenge of escalating faults and outages post torrential rain in Gauteng".

READ | City of Joburg begs Eskom for 3-day load shedding break to help tackle mounting faults, outages

By morning, City Power was still dealing with over 4 000 service calls related to the outages, with a significant proportion being multi-day issues.

Areas hardest hit are Roodepoort, Hursthill, Northcliff and Lenasia, where infrastructure was severely damaged by flooding.

MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Department Michael Sun said without power, the city was not able to fix the infrastructure.

Sun said:

Given the urgent need for City Power to attend to the widespread and escalating faults, the entity has expressed its concern that load shedding is not only causing additional faults and stress on the network but also preventing the entity from being able to effectively attend to the outages and to stabilise the situation.

"It is a simple fact that power lines and infrastructure cannot be worked on when there is no power, and cable theft increases exponentially during blackouts."

On a walkabout in the area, Sun said many roads and infrastructure near Florida Lake had been damaged.

He said he was concerned about the structural integrity of some of the homes in the area as foundations were made vulnerable to collapse due to flooding and zama zama (illegal mining) activities.

He said the city would be monitoring the area, especially now that more rain was predicted for the week.

MMC for Public Safety David Tembe said other areas that also suffered the wrath of the floods were Protea North, Braamfischerville, and Princess informal settlement.

Eldorado Park, Orange Farm, parts of Main Reef Road and Alexandra also needed help from the city's Emergency Management Services (EMS).

READ | Urgent steps were taken in 'a tumultuous' 2022 to address SA's electricity crisis - Ramaphosa

Tembe said the heavy rains were actively destroying infrastructure and devastating livelihoods.

The 9 December storm was the worst, with EMS inundated with reports from all parts of the city.

The emergencies include vehicles submerged in water, people trapped on roofs, collapsed walls, and shacks and houses demolished.

In Klipspruit, Soweto, 11 houses were destroyed, and 73 people were affected. In neighbouring Dobsonville, 10 homes, including shacks, were reportedly destroyed, leaving 48 people destitute. 

There were 52 houses that were swept away in Meadowlands next to Dorothy Nyembe, and 42 shacks at Matholesville, 11 in Doornkop and seven in Tshepisong were destroyed.

A total of 339 people were affected by floods between 9 and 10 December, with 269 structures, including houses and shacks, swept away.

MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services De
MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services Department Michael Sun and City Power Roodepoort Service Delivery Centre GM Sibusiso Xulu inspect the mini substation at the Manufacta Substation which blew up on Saturday. Black soot can be seen inside the box which will cost R700 000 to replace.

Despite this, Tembe said the flooding incidents have not been declared a disaster. 

He called the situation in Setswetla, Alexandra, "an unfavourable one" with a community in distress. 

"The building of shacks on river banks persists, rendering residents vulnerable and in danger to be swept away by raging floods at any given time."

Tembe said the recent floods had been attributed to climate change. 

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