Parts of Johannesburg continue to experience multiple unplanned power interruptions

Multiple unplanned power interruptions across the City of Johannesburg have sparked a reaction from officials‚ who outlined the causes and assured the public that the city has a plan of action to mitigate the outages – as much as the budget allows for.

City Power and the Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) responsible for environment and infrastructure services‚ councillor Nico de Jager‚ said the power problems were caused by factors including storms‚ cable theft‚ and vandalism of the electricity network “as well as the natural wear and tear of electricity infrastructure”.

City Power has increased the number of security personnel to guard the electricity network. The utility has also partnered with the South African Police (SAPS) and Johannesburg Metropolitan Police (JMPD) to combat theft‚ who have raided several suspected scrapyards across the City of Johannesburg.

Replacing copper cables with aluminum wires is another intervention being rolled out by the city in its efforts to clamp down on theft.

“This is a very costly exercise considering that all cables that were installed more than 50 years ago are made of copper. Although replacing copper with aluminum is very expensive‚ City Power has decided to embark on this initiative because we have realized that copper is the main commodity that cable thieves are after and that aluminum does not offer the same value to cable thieves‚” De Jager and City Power said.

“Due to the high cost of aluminum as well as the limited funds available‚ City Power cannot afford to replace all copper cables with aluminum at once. The utility has decided to do this programme in a phased approach as and when funds become available.”

 The City of Johannesburg has stated that there is a R170-billion infrastructure backlog. Of this‚ R19-billion is required to refurbish electricity infrastructure in the next 10 years.

De Jager said: “City Power has pro-actively identified old electricity network that has already passed its lifespan and needs to be replaced as a matter of urgency. I have encouraged management at the utility to replace it as per their plan.” De Jager added: “. . . I am also aware of the limited funds available to them to deliver on the plan to completely eradicate power interruptions.

“The reality we face today‚ is that City Power or the City of Johannesburg‚ does not have all the funds needed to refurbish all the electricity network and to expand electricity to areas that are still without electricity today.

“. . . We know that the rainstorms and the winter months are going to present a challenge in our ability to provide a reliable electricity supply to the residents of Johannesburg and we are doing everything in our power to prepare for the two seasons.

“We will continue with all mitigations to improve the reliability of our electricity supply‚ upgrading old infrastructure‚ arresting and prosecuting cable thieves and expanding the electricity network to those who still do not have electricity.”

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