Eskom power cuts delay repairs of overloads and faults caused by load-shedding

South Africa’s electricity woes aren’t limited to the two-and-a-half-hour bouts of load-shedding, with overloads and faults leaving large parts of the country’s economic hub in darkness when power is restored.

What’s worse is that repair jobs are often halted due to load-shedding.

These delays cause angry South Africans to take to social media to voice their frustration at power outages persisting after electricity was supposed to be restored.

“Hi team, North riding power has not come back on after load shedding. I cannot get through to your call centre, nor can I log onto the app. App gives errors. Please assist?” a resident asked City Power on Twitter.

“Norwood and surrounding areas are not restored after load-shedding. Can you check… yes we logged a call…” another user posted.

City Power promised to provide two-hourly updates for extended power outages — a commitment it appears to be struggling to meet — but the updates often cause more frustration.

“Can we get the 2 hourly update as promised on the power outage in the Roodepoort area, especially for Florida? It is now 3 hours after the initial update at 05:15,” a frustrated Twitter user asked City Power.

The utility’s response was equally frustrating. It replied quickly, saying it had halted repairs in the area due to load-shedding.

“What is the expected ETA for Florida?” another user asked the utility.

“Load-shedding underway; team will continue with repairs after load-shedding,” City Power responded.

Ward 134’s councillor, the Democratic Alliance’s Devon Steenkamp, said he understood that residents are frustrated by having their lives disrupted by unexpected power cuts after organising their days around expected load-shedding.

Steenkamp explained the power problems were due to balancing issues.

“It’s like when you switch on a car, the revs go high and then it stabilises,” the Sunday Times quoted Steenkamp as saying.

“It’s a balancing issue that can be helped if people switch off their geysers, pools and large appliances so that when the power is switched back on, the demand is not so high that the system just trips.”

Cable theft also contributes to extensive power cuts across the country, with City Power spending R100 million a year to fight thieves.

“We now have to intensify security deployment over hotspots where City Power has substations and cable networks,” City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member, Michael Sun, said.

“Alone in one year, City Power spent about R100 million on security deployment.”

Johannesburg’s fight against cable thieves includes moving away from copper cables. Sun said that the entity was replacing copper fuses with aluminium.

However, he explained that it appears there is a market for any conductive metal City Power uses.

A recent instance of cable theft in Eldorado Park left residents without power for days.

“The Eldorado Park substation burnt down on the 14th of April, and it has taken City Power days and millions of rands to restore,” Sun said.

“What is more concerning [is], whilst the substation has burnt down, and City Power is working to restore it, we have criminal syndicates stealing cables and fuses left, right, and centre.”

“In fact, over 20km of cables were stolen, and 170 fuses were being removed from many substations and switch stations,” he added.

He explained that thieves are also targeting City Power electricians and technicians.


Now read: Eskom misses major deadline at Koeberg nuclear power station

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Eskom power cuts delay repairs of overloads and faults caused by load-shedding