Eskom has issued a notice warning Gauteng residents of the fact that they have been forced to halt substation repair and maintenance operations in some parts of the province due to safety concerns, as well as escalating debt.
The power utility is battling under pressure to secure repayment commitments from most communities in the province.
However, the rampant growth of illegal connections in the vast informal settlements that cover a sizable portion of Gauteng’s landscape has made it almost impossible for Eskom to maintain consistent distribution of electricity.
Residents often manipulate mini substations and overload the grid with illegal connections, which is an extremely hazardous practice which inevitably ends up destroying the electricity infrastructure.
“The members of various communities in the [belowmentioned] areas and other identified hotspots bypass their meters, illegally connect themselves to the network and vandalise electricity infrastructure, which leads to sporadic power supply interruptions.
“This is because the transformers become overloaded, particularly during the winter period, and subsequently catch fire or explode as their protections have been interfered with and vandalised,” Eskom said in a statement.
Which Gauteng areas has Eskom halted operations in?
In a statement, the power utility revealed that substation repair and maintenance work has temporarily been halted in these areas:
- Braamfischer and Klipspruit (Soweto)
- Ivory Park (Ekurhuleni)
- Orange Farm (Johannesburg south)
- Winterveldt (Tshwane)
Why Eskom halted substation operations in parts of Gauteng?
The power utility revealed that during the week of 21 June, some of their offices in these regions were targeted by violent protests.
“Eskom is very concerned about the frequent and increased number of incidents where its offices are blockaded employees are sometimes assaulted, intimidated and in extreme situations, held hostage by some of the community members,” the power utility noted.
The reason for this, it seems, is due to Eskom’s stance on defaulting residents who have not honoured their agreement to settle their electricity debts.
Therefore, Eskom has warned that it will halt all operations to have the mini substations repaired due to safety concerns, as well as the fact that the residents of these aforementioned areas are defaulting customers.
“Due to the increasing number of these incidents, Eskom is not in a position to continuously replace mini substations and pole-mounted transformers in particular areas where the residents are not paying for their electricity.
“Non-payment of electricity does not only impact on the security of supply for paying customers but also contributes to increased energy and revenue losses coupled with increased operational costs,” the utility warned.
This measure, Eskom confirmed, will be put in place until the identified areas have been declared safe for operations.