Ramokgopa condemns Tshwane infrastructure vandalism

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Minister in the Presidency responsible for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has condemned the alleged vandalism of electricity pylons, which led to the collapse of at least seven power line structures in Tshwane on Sunday.

 

The collapse has left thousands of residents and businesses, particularly those in the east of the city, in the dark since the weekend.

City mayor Cilliers Brink blamed the extensive damage on criminals who were stripping off metal from the base of the pylons, compromising the infrastructure.

“The challenges of attacks on our strategic and critical infrastructure are well documente, from rail lines, and now its pylons and also water infrastructure. It is something that is receiving particular attention,” Ramokgopa said.

“What is happening here is just a manifestation of rampant lawlessness and how brazen people are that they would go to any lengths to ensure that they sabotage this infrastructure. That’s why we have been calling for harsher penalties and re-categorisation of some of these crimes.

“These are economic crimes meant to collapse the economy of the country. We will wait for the investigations to be concluded but there is sufficient evidence, visually, to suggest that the structural integrity has been compromised. They have been eating away at these components for some time and that’s what’s led to the collapse,” the Minister said.

He joined Brink, on a site inspection at the collapsed pylon site on Tuesday.

Ramokgopa said the outage will have a significant impact on the city, as it also affected Tshwane’s automotive hub and other businesses.

“The impact is significant to the economy of the city and that’s why we are working to support the city to ensure that we come up with solutions that are faster and more enduring going into the future.

“There are three teams from Eskom that we working with the city to ensure that we restore and energise these areas as soon as possible,” he said.

By Wednesday morning, Brink reported that power had been restored to at least 40% of the affected areas, with work towards full restoration ongoing.

“Our number one priority is to restore all of the power that has been off since Sunday. We’ve followed up on two approaches. The most important is to restore the 132kv line, which ran on those pylons. We are in the process of procuring the pylons and doing the work to have a permanent solution.

“The second thing we’ve done is to restore power by a process of rerouting electricity to as much of the affected areas as possible. About 40% of the affected areas have been restored. For technical reasons, some areas can be back-fed and some areas can’t because of the nature of the network.

“I have nonetheless spoken to officials and asked for an urgent set of measures to help those areas that have not had electricity since Sunday and that includes Mamelodi, Eesterust, Waltloo Industrial, as well places like Queenswood. Today, we will hopefully announce a set of measures to bring relief to those communities,” Brink said.