Western Cape supports Eskom to fix electricity outage in Central Karoo

13 February 2024 | SANews

The Western Cape provincial government says it is ramping up efforts to step in to support Eskom to fix the electricity outage in the Central Karoo.

This comes after a thunderstorm ravaged the district municipality earlier this month, damaging infrastructure.

According to the Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, the Central Karoo is currently facing hard rock formations, faulty equipment, and Stage 6 load shedding.

“Staff across the Western Cape provincial government have been assisting with all sorts of support that Eskom needs to expedite this issue, from procuring drilling equipment to transporting and moving generators and equipment to the affected areas, they are working tirelessly,” Winde said, thanking all their staff and partners.

“I want to reassure the residents of the Karoo that we are working flat out to help Eskom restore electricity to you.”

Eskom, said the provincial government, reported that a hard rock formation on the site between Touws River and Laingsburg led to the breakdown of its rock drill, which is now preventing the completion of the last four 2.4 metres deep holes that are needed to anchor the remaining temporary poles to support the new electrical lines as part of the outage repair work underway in the Karoo.

Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning MEC, Anton Bredell, said the provincial government has already at the weekend reached out to equipment and transport contractors to assist Eskom in procuring another drilling rig as well as an additional 20-ton and 35-ton excavator.

“The faulty rock drill is currently being fixed but we need to do everything in our power to avoid delays on this project. As such we will support Eskom where we can with procurement and logistics,” Bredell said.

However, he said the rapid acceleration of load shedding to level 6 has further compounded matters for the affected Karoo towns, as generator availability in the province is stretched to the limit.

“Many of these generators are from an R88 million allocation that the WCG made to municipalities at the beginning of 2023 when they needed to secure safe drinking water and water treatment as the worst impacts of Eskom’s load shedding were becoming increasingly felt.

“I never anticipated that this intervention would be so deeply needed under circumstances like this where entire Karoo towns have been without Eskom power since Saturday, 3 February,” said Winde.

He said the province is also seeing loan generators being called back from the Karoo towns as they are needed by their owners to cope with the extended load shedding.

“We must allocate generator capacity where it is being utilised optimally at this stage. As such, it was worrying to learn of a large 65kVA loan generator from the Garden Route District Municipality that broke down in Kannaland over the weekend. We will investigate the cause of the breakdown.”

Bredell explained that at least four additional generators are required to provide power to critical infrastructure in Leeu Gamka and Prince Albert Road at this stage.

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Social Development is providing food relief to indigent households across the Central Karoo.

The department has also enabled three old age facilities in Prince Albert, Laingsburg, and Ladismith, to buy diesel for generators as their diesel supplies have been running low.

Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez, said food relief efforts were taking place over the weekend.

“DSD staff have been working around the clock on assessments and vetting processes to ensure food relief goes to the residents who need it most.

“Hundreds of beneficiaries were assisted through this weekend’s efforts, in various towns, and the work continues. Thank you to the incredible staff on the ground, and the municipalities and stakeholders for working with us to help our vulnerable residents for whom these power outages have been especially hard,” Fernandez added.

According to the province, Eskom has indicated the project is still scheduled for completion by Thursday, 15 February.

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