Cape Town and Joburg on high alert as all-day stage 6 load shedding hits

 ·11 Jan 2023

The cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg have issued separate alerts surrounding infrastructure issues as load shedding once again hits stage 6 in South Africa.

Eskom announced on Wednesday that load shedding would be pushed to stage 6 indefinitely after it suffered 11 breakdowns at its power stations.

The City of Johannesburg called on residents to be on alert and to report theft and damage to infrastructure, particularly cable theft, which often ramps up during extended outages.

Cable theft continued at alarmingly high levels during the festive season, the city said, with seventeen instances of cable theft occurring in the last week alone.

“Although our effort with City Power has helped to put 147 cable thieves behind bars in just the last six months of 2022 – almost double the amount compared to the previous twelve-month period, cable theft is still far too high, with instances occurring on a daily basis,” it said.

“This year, we are going to redouble our efforts and ensure City Power works in tandem with the law enforcement agencies and shoulder to shoulder with communities to extinguish this horrendous crime against lives, livelihoods and our national stability.”

“City Power is currently seized with crafting an emergency plan to deal with cable theft immediately which will include adding to its already over R100 million security budget, among others.”

The city also previously announced plans to seek independent power producers to help it curb the effects of load shedding. Progress is expected to be made on this front in 2023.

Extended periods of load shedding in 2022 not only opened the door for more criminality in the city but also caused damage to City Power’s infrastructure and subsequently other infrastructure like water pumps, leading to major outages in the city.

Cape Town disaster centre active

The City of Cape Town, meanwhile, said that its Disaster Operations Centre has been activated to mitigate any potential impact of the indefinite load shedding on Cape Town residents.

“The situation is being closely monitored. Traffic and additional enforcement resources are on standby to be deployed if required for any public safety issues or in areas affected by prolonged power outages,” it said.

As is the case in Joburg, the city’s infrastructure suffers severely during extended outages. Adding to Cape Town’s woes, however, is the knock-on effect to the city’s beaches, some of which have had to be closed due to raw sewage in the water.

“Unfortunately, with high, prolonged stages of load-shedding, there could be sewer spills and overflows, despite the city’s contingency measures,” it said. “An added challenge is the dumping of inappropriate material in the sewer system, which leads to blockages.”

Where sustained high stages of load-shedding and illegal dumping impact city sewer pump stations and related infrastructure, the city said it would act swiftly in coordination with various departments.

The city said that its infrastructure takes a hammering due to the constant Eskom load-shedding at high levels.

“The damage to infrastructure often leads to prolonged outages and increased service requests. Sometimes, pockets of areas are excluded from load-shedding for a period in order to do critical, necessary maintenance work,” it said.

It warned that as a result, there could be more secondary outages due to tripping, which happens when the electricity comes back on after load-shedding.

“Due to electricity returning at the same time in a particular pocket of an area, the power often trips and shuts off again. Hence one would experience this as power coming on, and a few minutes later, it is off. To help reduce the occurrence of this, residents are advised to switch off electrical appliances ahead of load-shedding to prevent secondary outages,” it said.

The city also warned of elevated levels of criminality, echoing the sentiments of Johannesburg.

“Non-stop load-shedding at high stages leaves infrastructure vulnerable. The city monitors hot spot areas, but residents are encouraged to report any incidents of theft, vandalism and damage to infrastructure to the city and the South African Police Service.”

The city will offer a reward of R5,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest, confiscation of stolen or illegal goods or the handing in of illegal or stolen goods. This reward is also applicable to information leading to the arrest of people vandalising, damaging or stealing electricity infrastructure or installing illegal connections.

Read: Stage 6 load shedding extended after Eskom suffers 11 breakdowns

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