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When art meets eco­nom­ics

CityPress - - News - SIPHO MA­SONDO sipho.ma­sondo@city­press.co.za

Er­ratic power sup­ply through­out many parts of Gaut­eng will con­tinue dur­ing the com­ing cold win­ter days un­til smart me­ters have been in­stalled in all house­holds. And the in­stal­la­tion of smart me­ters and big­ger sub­sta­tions with in­creased ca­pac­ity would take any­thing be­tween “three to five years”, said Khulu Phasiwe, spokesper­son for power util­ity Eskom.

He added that the big­ger sub­sta­tions would have more ca­pac­ity and re­duce over­load­ing of the sys­tem. Cru­cially, they are made in a way that “residents can­not fid­dle or tam­per with them, and con­nect il­le­gally”.

The new in­stal­la­tions have been com­pleted in some parts of Soweto, Sand­ton and Midrand.

“We have seen very few il­le­gal con­nec­tions and less un­rest where we have in­stalled smart me­ters. Be­cause of that, we feel it is very crit­i­cal to mi­grate every­one,” Phasiwe added.

Icy and win­try weather con­di­tions across Gaut­eng this week ex­erted pres­sure on nu­mer­ous elec­tric­ity sub­sta­tions, caus­ing them to trip and leav­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands in the dark amid ris­ing fears that load shed­ding has re­turned.

In Dube and Zola, res­i­den ts went on the ram­page, loot­ing busi­nesses and dam­ag­ing prop­erty. They plun­dered a KFC branch, a bakery, Pep Stores branch, and dam­aged Jozi FM’s stu­dios.

In Zola, they closed streets and dam­aged ve­hi­cles, ac­cus­ing Eskom of “un­planned load shed­ding”.

Phasiwe said the util­ity had not had load shed­ding in more than 10 months “and we don’t plan to have it”.

“We had a sit­u­a­tion where peo­ple were dam­ag­ing prop­erty. When you have peo­ple con­nect­ing il­le­gally, they know that the sub­sta­tion will be over­loaded and sub­se­quently trip. So they opened sub­sta­tions and fid­dled with them. Many fid­dled with the switch that is meant to trip when the sys­tem is over­loaded to pre­vent them from trip­ping and, in some cases, the sub­sta­tions ex­ploded,” Phasiwe said.

“For now, we are back to nor­mal, but if [the weather] gets too cold again, we will have prob­lems.”

He said Soweto par­tic­u­larly was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing se­ri­ous prob­lems be­cause many fam­i­lies have since ex­tended their houses and built back rooms. “But many of their me­ters were not de­signed to cope with elec­tric­ity de­mands for the back rooms. Those me­ters need to be changed to ac­com­mo­date a higher volt­age.”

The ar­eas that were af­fected in Soweto in­clude Mo­folo South and North, Mapetla, Zondi, Dube, Mead­ow­lands and some parts of Zola. Il­le­gal con­nec­tions, power and cable theft cost Eskom about R2 bil­lion every year in re­pairs. “Il­le­gal con­nec­tions are a prob­lem, not only for Eskom but for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties,” Phasiwe said.

City Power’s man­ag­ing direc­tor, Sicelo Xulu, said the City of Joburg had prob­lems in Le­na­sia, El­do­rado Park, Vlak­fontein, Klip­spruit West and Zand­spruit.

“It is be­cause there are back yard, il­le­gal con­nec­tions and the net­work takes a strain. Once we had dealt with the il­le­gal con­nec­tions, we were able to re­store the power and nor­malise the in­fra­struc­ture.

“In Hon­ey­dew we had a cable-theft [sit­u­a­tion] and in Florida we had tech­ni­cal faults, but power has since been re­stored,” he said on Fri­day.

He said the city was los­ing about R900 mil­lion an­nu­ally as a re­sult of il­le­gal con­nec­tions, elec­tric­ity theft and cable theft. He en­cour­aged residents to use power spar­ingly and also use proper heat­ing equip­ment.

Coun­cil­lor Ti­mothy Tru­luck of Ward 117 in Jo­han­nes­burg, said ar­eas such as Rose­bank, Hyde Park, Dunkeld, Parkhurst and Sax­on­wold all ex­pe­ri­enced tech­ni­cal glitches: “Our prob­lem is prob­a­bly a bit dif­fer­ent. We don’t have il­le­gal con­nec­tions. It was tech­ni­cal glitches caused by old and fail­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” he said.

Cable theft caused out­ages in Benoni, Thokoza and Palm­ridge, said Ekurhu­leni spokesper­son Zweli Dlamini.

Mamelodi in Tsh­wane also had black­outs. Spokesper­son Lin­dela Mashigo said au­thor­i­ties were con­nect­ing some ar­eas to the grid and had over­loaded the sys­tem. She said the prob­lem would be sorted out in two weeks’ time. With Venezuela’s high­est­de­nom­i­na­tion note now worth less than a stick of gum, one lo­cal de­signer is protest­ing against his coun­try’s eco­nomic cri­sis through cur­rency art.

Jose Leon (24) has been cov­er­ing the faces of na­tional he­roes on the small­est notes of two bo­li­vars - worth one-fifth of a US cent at the black mar­ket rate - with the in­tri­cately sten­cilled faces of Amer­i­can su­per­heroes.

“One day, I was paid in two bolivar notes; what a pain! At night, watch­ing Dead­pool, I de­cided to draw it on the bills,” said the tatooist and ama­teur car­toon­ist.

Notes in Venezuela have be­come a se­ri­ous nui­sance af­ter the cur­rency’s pre­cip­i­tous fall in value. The largest 100 bolivar note is worth just 10 US cents on the black mar­ket and peo­ple of­ten carry bags full of money for ba­sic pur­chases.

Leon has been cov­er­ing the faces of Venezuela’s in­de­pen­dence he­roes, in­clud­ing Fran­cisco de Mi­randa, with im­ages from Star Wars to Bat­man.

Af­ter ex­hibit­ing his work on In­sta­gram, he re­ceived hun­dreds of re­ac­tions and a hash­tag was born: #Venezue­laDe­val­u­ada (#Venezue­laDe­val­ued).

– Reuters

WRECKED Dube residents in Soweto looted shops in the area dur­ing a protest over elec­tric­ity cuts. Pro­test­ers also van­dalised an ATM, a cloth­ing store, cars and a bakery, and block­aded streets 600 400 200 0

AN­GRY Dube residents block­aded roads and burnt tyres to ex­press their dis­sat­is­fac­tion at un­planned power cuts

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