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Concern is growing over the increase in power outages in Louis Trichardt, leaving people in the dark despite the absence of load-shedding.

Residents fear the worst as power outages escalate

Date: 16 May 2024 By: Andries van Zyl

Residents and business owners in downtown Louis Trichardt along Rissik Street had to endure at least 19 power outages on Monday and Tuesday, with little or no explanation from the Makhado Municipality regarding the root cause of the problem and what was being done to address it. The problem caused damage to computers and servers as well as to back-up batteries and inverters.

Mr Kassie de Lange, owner of Safety First in the Du Toit’s Business Centre, was left especially irate. His alarm system logs every power outage according to date and time. Despite no load shedding taking place, his system recorded a 26-minute power failure on 29 April, a 30-minute power outage on 30 April, a two-hour-and-51-minutes power failure on 5 May, followed by both a 1-hour-and-22-minutes and 31-minutes power outage on 6 May.

Then things escalated. Tuesday, 7 May, saw 10 different power outages, totalling just more than four-and-a-half hours. One power outage each took place on 8 and 9 May, of 16 minutes and 6 minutes respectively, followed by a six- and seven-minute outage on 10 May and four-, 10- and 20-minute outages on 11 May.

Then came Monday, 13 May, with no fewer than six power outages during business hours, totalling 50 minutes. The problem of the power going off and coming on continued throughout the night, and by Tuesday evening, another 13 outages had occurred, totalling more than two hours. “This is causing us more damage than load shedding,” said De Lange.

De Lange said that the frequency of outages in town appeared to be escalating, with no clear indication of the cause or possible solutions. “To me, as I am sure to many others afflicted, it is a clear case of wilful or negligent damage to property and businesses, with no accountability whatsoever,” said De Lange.

He added that although one could run a generator to counter the interruptions (at an additional cost) or use a solar system, appliances draw maximum power when the electricity comes back on again, both increasing the electricity bill and more than likely causing damage to appliances. “Yes, you can unplug everything to prevent damage, but how long do you leave it unplugged? As indicated, there is no pattern to the outages as the power constantly keeps going off and on, so do you then keep your generator running the whole day, incurring exorbitant costs?”

De Lange is concerned that this current situation is an indication that the power grid in and around town is on the verge of total collapse. “Is it a case of limiting electrical usage outside of load shedding, or increasing meter readings? Is it an indication of a lack of skilled workers or just plain incompetence? Are we reaping the rewards of years of corruption?” he asked.

According to De Lange, the outages seem to create a lot of problems and no solutions. “The citizens and businesses in and around town must bear the brunt of additional costs, costs of damages incurred and a blatant infringement on our way of life and ability to run our businesses. Surely someone, somewhere, in the responsible department should be able to supply clear and concise feedback regarding this continuing issue, and the remedies thereto,” said De Lange.

The newspaper shared De Lange's frustration in trying to find answers. Municipal spokesperson Mr Louis Bobodi was asked on Monday afternoon what the cause of the large number of power outages was. He responded by stating that a transformer “at the maize mill in town” seemed to be the problem, but that their technicians were attending to the problem.

With the problem persisting on Tuesday, Bobodi was asked if he could explain what the exact problem was and what the municipality was doing to fix it. He was also asked about the current state of the power grid and whether residents’ fears of its being on the verge of collapse were founded. “It would seem the problem is huge; hopefully it will be resolved by the end of today,” was Bobodi’s response to the questions. He neither explained what the problem was, nor did he comment on the current state of the municipal power grid. Bobodi was again asked for clarification on this on Wednesday. “As soon as I get something, I'll revert back to you,” was Bobodi’s response.

 

 
 
 

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Andries van Zyl

Andries joined the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror in April 1993 as a darkroom assistant. Within a couple of months he moved over to the production side of the newspaper and eventually doubled as a reporter. In 1995 he left the newspaper group and travelled overseas for a couple of months. In 1996, Andries rejoined the Zoutpansberger as a reporter. In August 2002, he was appointed as News Editor of the Zoutpansberger, a position he holds until today.

 
 

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