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Power outage nightmare for Roodepan resident


A Roodepan resident was left emotionally and financially distressed after having to fork out around R1,800 on petrol for a generator to keep her ailing 72-year-old mother alive after their neighbourhood suffered a power outage for five days.

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A ROODEPAN resident was left emotionally and financially distressed after having to fork out around R1,800 on petrol for a generator to keep her ailing 72-year-old mother alive after their neighbourhood suffered a power outage for five days.

The 72-year-old woman has been dependent on an electrical ventilator for almost a year after suffering multiple organ failure.

The Naborn area in Roodepan was plunged into darkness from Wednesday, July 27 to Monday, August 1, after a power pole burnt.

An elderly man in Cassia Street, Roodepan, who was also on a ventilator, was apparently not so lucky and died during an electricity outage.

The outage happened when Sol Plaatje Municipality implemented electricity cuts for those who have not paid their accounts.

The daughter of the 72-year-old woman said she was left with no choice but to keep the generator running in order to keep her mother alive.

She pointed out that she was among the very few who own a generator, with some families in the same situation as her not able to afford to buy one.

According to the woman, panic drove her to buy a generator when the country started experiencing heavy load shedding.

She described the past five days as the worst since her mother’s release from hospital.

The woman was just one of the many residents who were left fuming by the power outage, where those who were dependent on life support suffered the most.

In the case of the old man who died, members of the community tried all in their power to try and save his life.

A Good Samaritan even volunteered to lend the family a generator but it was too late to save the man.

It is believed that the power outage in the Naborn area was caused by the burning of an electricity pole in Raven Street, which left the southern parts of Roodepan in the dark.

The cable also burnt as a result, causing the end of the pole structure to blow.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Thoko Riet said that the local authority regretted the inconvenience caused to residents.

Riet said that five faults were detected on the pole by the municipal electricians, who “worked around the clock” to repair the faults and restore the power on Monday.

The municipality blamed the outage on a fibre company that it said had damaged a cable in Aloe Street while digging on Wednesday, July 27.

Riet added that a cat was also found to have short-circuited the red phase on the power transformer at Midlands substation.

“This caused a huge power surge which brought out seven cable joints,” said Riet. “Surges or faults usually choose the quickest path, and hence releasing through the cable joints.

“Faults started to appear all over, affecting 3 SAI (military base) as well. This fault ran right through, until it came out at HA Morris substation.

“These faults could be seen through concrete platforms, indicating the magnitude thereof.”

According to Riet, if seven cable joints get damaged, this then multiplies by two, giving you 14 cable joints to install.

“At HA Morris, the 66kV OCB got damaged due to the surge and we had to switch over to the new sf6 line, Midlands number 2 feeder.

“Certain components were transferred from Midlands number 1 feeder to the new feeder and the new feeder had to be quickly commissioned on Wednesday and Thursday.

“This work commenced on Thursday and finished on Saturday morning.

“A lot of fault tracing was done in house, and using our old testing trailer due to the new trailer being vandalised and stripped.

“Plenty of excavation work took place, by hand and using machinery, to minimise the impact and we managed to return the army camp during the early hours of Sunday morning.

“The fault was on the customer’s side and we assisted in resolving the problem.”

Riet added that the energising of the ring networks in Naborn could only take place after all repairs were completed and that the two dominant faults that persisted were time delayed earth faults in Midlands substation.

“The real switching back of substations only really started on Saturday afternoon, whereby various issues were identified including suspect transformers within mini-subs, pole mount transformers and further cable concerns.

“On Monday morning, the team decided to dis-enable the sensitivity earth fault protection in order to eliminate this trip.

“On Sunday evening the team managed to get 80% of the affected households back on.”

Riet concluded by saying that a fault-finding electrical company was called to assist, while the municipality replaced the oil on one mini sub-transformer and is currently in the process of replacing a faulty transformer.

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