Wednesday, 28 July 2021: Eskom in Gauteng has experienced an increase in the number of pole-mounted transformers and mini-substations that fail because of the network overloads caused by meter bypassing, illegal connections, unauthorised operations and vandalism of the electricity infrastructure. The power utility has to date successfully replaced and repaired 50% of the damaged electricity equipment in areas where communities have complied with the audit process across Gauteng.
Although Eskom has a relatively stable amount of critical material in stock, there is however, a risk of being unable to meet the exponentially high demands because of the national lockdown that has affected the production of the electrical equipment, which in turn distressed the entire industry. The work to replace the failed electricity infrastructure is in progress in all affected areas. These are subsequent to the audit process, which includes assessing the severity of the damage on the network, removing illegal connections, disconnecting and issuing fines to customers with contraventions that have to be paid in full before the equipment is replaced.
“We are working diligently to ensure that we repair and replace the failed equipment with the resources available to us. However, we often are faced with community resistance and other challenges which delay our efforts such as violently assaulting and injuring our employees, chasing them out of the areas, illegally removing and operating on our infrastructure and non-adherence to the audit process as is the case in Chiawelo”, says Mashangu Xivambu, Senior Maintenance and Operations in Gauteng. Eskom has replaced six of the seven-failed equipment in other parts of Chiawelo with just one area remaining due to the lack of community cooperation until recently. The mini-substation will be replaced in the area subject to the availability of resources and material. “We encourage communities to fully cooperate with us by allowing our employees to conduct their operations without interference”, concluded Xivambu.