Suburbs in the dark could wait another 72 hours

A mobile power supply unit has been moved to the Masons Primary substation to provide electricity to businesses and homes in the city.PHOTO: manilal inderjit
A mobile power supply unit has been moved to the Masons Primary substation to provide electricity to businesses and homes in the city.PHOTO: manilal inderjit

IT could take another 72 hours to restore power to some residential and industrial areas in the city, following the explosion and fire at the Masons Primary substation on Thursday last week.

The building was severely damaged, deputy mayor Manilal Inderjit said, with a 30cm-thick wall “blown to smithereens” and doors and windows blown out, scattering debris around the building.

The explosion also destroyed the entire 11 kV distribution board, which means the municipality cannot supply power to the Eden Park Hospital, Ridge Park, part of Camps Drift, Pentrich Road, Mason’s Mill, the Umgeni Water pump station, Scottsville Extension, part of Westgate, The Grange, Richmond Crest and part of Pelham.

Writing on The Witness Facebook page, residents expressed their anger at the outage, with some worried about food going off and having to be thrown out and others expressing concerns about oxygen supplies not getting to the hospital.

Kathryn Hudson believes the municipality needs to supply a generator to provide the areas suffering the extended outage with power.

“The Umgeni water pump station should be given priority. The water system will be the next to fail,” Hudson wrote.

Inderjit said he understood the frustrations of residents and business owners, adding that staff had been working round the clock to restore power.

“We have also hired contractors because we understand that this is an emergency and that it has had a huge impact on businesses and ordinary people,” he added.

A nearby transformer has allowed the municipality to restore some power to Afrox, which will assist the hospital, but even this temporary fix has uncovered challenges.

The substation’s multicore protection cables have been completely burnt.

The cables, which contain multiple cores made from copper wire, were installed in the basement of the substation where the fire caused extensive damage.

In a statement Msunduzi said it would need to source and install new multicore protection cables, making it difficult for them to say when repairs would be completed.

“However, at this stage, we will estimate 24 hours.

“The estimated restoration times [for the affected areas] will also be delayed as the protection will have to be functional,” the statement read.

In the meantime, the municipality has moved a mobile power supply unit from the Northdale Primary substation to the Masons Primary site to provide electricity.

They are also looking at ways to restore the power supply via other substations, by making alterations to the existing infrastructure.

Asked what plans Msunduzi had for getting the Masons Primary substation back up and running, Inderjit said that the amount of damage caused by the explosion meant it would need to be rebuilt from scratch.

This, he said would take a minimum of three months and the municipality would need to get financial assistance from outside sources, including the Department of Energy, to undertake the work, the deputy mayor added.

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