Posted on March 18, 2005

Business Learns to Live with Outages

Khulu Phasiwe and Larry Claasen, Business Day (Johannesburg), Mar. 11

Organised business said yesterday that it was getting used to the power outages in Johannesburg.

The city has been hit by a number of power cuts recently, and yesterday blackouts affected the suburbs of Rosebank, Saxonworld, Dunkeld, Emmarentia, Hyde Park, Fairlands and Parktown.

South African Chamber of Business policy director Johan Zietsman said businesses were now expecting power cuts and were learning to cope with the situation.

Zietsman said the business community’s view was that until City Power rectified the problem more electricity cuts were likely to occur. As a result they had started providing for the power cuts in their budgeting processes.

He said that while he had received no feedback from members regarding the latest power outage, several recent power outages in the West Rand had created problems in residential areas.

Zietsman said he was sure City Power and the municipality were doing everything they could to remedy the situation.

Johannesburg’s power utility City Power said yesterday that it had restored power supply to all affected areas by late afternoon.

Spokesman Sol Masolo said the power failure was caused by “problems” detected at one of the company’s substations. “We are waiting for a detailed report from the technicians to be able to say what exactly was the cause of the power failure,” he said.

Last year Johannesburg experienced 15 power outages, mainly during the peak demand winter period. The lack of investment and maintenance in the power distribution infrastructure, coupled with the growing demand and illegal connections, have led to the recent power outages.

Last year City Power CEO Mogwailane Mohlala said the state of infrastructure in the city was so dilapidated that it would take about three years to overhaul the entire electricity distribution system.

He said R2bn had been allocated to improve the power distribution infrastructure in the next five years.

City Power vice-president for operations Silas Zimu said more than R100m would be spend on the maintenance programme “so as to ensure that we have a sustainable network into the future”.