Travellers at OR Tambo International Airport were left in darkness on Sunday 12 January following a transformer fire in Kempton Park.
The fire affected City of Ekurhuleni customers including OR Tambo International Airport, resulting in many systems at the airport – such as the lights in the international arrivals terminal – being temporarily disabled.
Commuters at OR Tambo reported that the power outage left them in darkness, with people reportedly forced to search for their luggage using torches on their cellphones.
The blackouts affected a number of airport functions, including baggage conveyors, retail stores, and communication systems.
Speaking to Times Live, Airports Company SA spokesperson Samukelo Khambule said the power outage lasted for around two hours.
“Certain services were affected, such as people movers, retail outlets and some communication mechanisms. Airport operations continued, assisted by the back-up generator systems which ensured that critical infrastructure continued,” Khambule said.
“Manual operations were also activated in mainstream services such as baggage systems.”
The blackouts at OR Tambo were due to the fire at the Kempton Park substation and were not related to load-shedding.
Eskom announced stage 1 load-shedding for Friday 10 January, but it did not implement any load-shedding on Saturday or Sunday.
The power utility said that the cause of the substation fire would be investigated once it was safe to access the premises.
Arrivals in darkness
Commuters who were left in darkness at the airport posted photos and videos of the situation on social media, shown below.
— Noob_Noonz (@noob_noonz) January 12, 2020
No power at south African main airport and pax have to use mobile phones to look for their luggage on the carousel.#travel #traveler #Johannesburg #ortambo #Eskom #eskomloadshedding #Loadshedding pic.twitter.com/HExGPM2GfA
— Mervin Pearce (@mervinpearce) January 12, 2020
Sitting outside enjoying the rain with a cup of coffee watching the Boeings descending for #ORTambo they have no idea what they are about to walk in to when they get off the planes. pic.twitter.com/NllmYGRSIj
— Danie Barnard (@DaanBarnard) January 12, 2020