Substation fire leaves Mooikloof in darkness

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Tshwane residents are growing increasingly concerned about the spate of substation fires, which have caused significant disruptions to their daily lives.

The latest incident, a blaze at the Mooikloof substation, east of Pretoria, has left thousands without power.

According to the Tshwane Municipality, an explosion on Wednesday night led to a fire damaging one of the substation’s transformers and panels.

Residents are frustrated and worried they may spend the weekend without electricity, exacerbating the already difficult situation.

Communities reliant on the Mooikloof substation continue to experience prolonged power outages, with darkness persisting in many areas. The situation has been further complicated by severe traffic congestion during peak hours, leaving residents feeling frustrated and inconvenienced.

Some of the residents echoed their sentiments.

“It’s a problem because we can’t even bath or do anything, we can’t even cook. It’s few days like this and it is not for the first time this has been happening, it’s a problem.”

“It is very expensive because you have to throw away your food and everything else.”

Previously, the City of Tshwane attributed the frequent substation failures to the strain caused by load shedding.

However, aging infrastructure and inadequate maintenance have also been identified as contributing factors.

Meanwhile, the ANC has pointed to a lack of sufficient security measures at the substations as a key issue, highlighting the need for enhanced protection to prevent such incidents.

ANC Tshwane Chairperson, Eugene Modise, “This is a direct demonstration of incompetence. How can you put a national key point without security. And not physical security only, even the technical one, when it burst you must be able to strap the electricity so that it doesn’t go through.”

While the cause of the Mooikloof substation fire and similar incidents at other substations remains unknown, Tshwane Mayor Cilliers Brink has acknowledged that the City has fallen short in its responsibility to protect its infrastructure and assets, leaving them vulnerable to damage and disruption.

Brink could not provide a definite timeline for when power will be restored, however, he emphasized that the City’s top priority is ensuring the continuity of essential services, particularly at critical facilities like Pretoria East Hospital.

“We really working very hard but the damage is extensive, this is not going to be a quick operation. In the meantime, we ask for the patience of the communities, the work with social partners to relieve the circumstances as much as we can.”

The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) attributes the problem to the City’s failure to in source and adequately pay security guards, leaving substations vulnerable to vandalism and damage.

SAMWU Tshwane Regional Secretary, Ngoako Mathabatha, “Not all assets in the City are protected by insourced and outsourced security, and if workers are not happy coming to work for more than 3 months not receiving salaries, that affects the moral of workers and that’s why some of the infrastructure is not protected.”

The City of Tshwane has apologized to residents for the Mooikloof substation fire and appealed for patience while they repair the substation to restore power in impacted suburbs.

Technical teams are working around the clock to fix the damage in order to restore power to affected areas.