Still left in the dark

North Coast Weekender - - Front Page - Lau­ren Pi­lat

WOODVALE res­i­dents con­tinue to be kept in the dark with street­lights bro­ken for more than five months due to bud­get pres­sures and hu­man re­sourc­ing is­sues, says North Met­ro­pol­i­tan MLC Tjorn Sibma.

Mr Sibma said street light­ing prob­lems – caused by un­der­hground ca­ble is­sues – had af­fected the sub­urb since Fe­bru­ary, when he was con­tacted by an Ach­e­son Crescent res­i­dent who was told by a West­ern Power em­ployee that bud­get and staffing re­stric­tions in­hib­ited re­sponse times.

When ques­tioned by Mr Sibma in Par­lia­ment last month, min­is­ters de­nied bud­get­ing and hu­man re­source is­sues had con­strained the gov­ern­men­towned cor­po­ra­tion from rou­tine main­te­nance and re­place­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

Mr Sibma said in cor­re­spon­dence, West­ern Power staff ad­mit­ted bud­get pres­sures pre­vented them fix­ing faults not con­sid­ered ‘emer­gen­cies’, leav­ing Woodvale res­i­dents in limbo.

“It con­cerns me that some­body at the cus­tomer ser­vice coal­face in West­ern Power, quite truth­fully I would say, ad­vised an ag­grieved cus­tomer that they could not get sat­is­fac­tion ear­lier, notwith­stand­ing any tech­ni­cal prob­lems, be­cause there were ‘bud­get and there­fore staffing re­stric­tions’,” he said.

Kings­ley MLA Jes­sica Sto­jkovski, who has been con­tacted by four res­i­dents about street light­ing is­sues in Woodvale and is work­ing with West­ern Power on fix­ing the is­sue, said the state­ment was com­pletely in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing.

“West­ern Power has con­firmed that there are no bud­get or hu­man re­sourc­ing con­straints im­pact­ing its abil­ity to un­der­take rou­tine main­te­nance and has ac­tu­ally apol­o­gised to the gov­ern­ment and En­ergy Min­is­ter Ben Wy­att for the cus­tomer cor­re­spon­dence which stated this,” she said.

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Stephen Daw­son, rep­re­sent­ing En­ergy Min­is­ter Ben Wy­att in Par­lia­ment, said the street light­ing power out­age was one of 49 un­der­ground ca­ble faults across the sub­urb ex­pected to be re­paired by July.

“Ca­ble faults are sig­nif­i­cantly more costly and dif­fi­cult to re­pair than globe faults and gen­er­ally take be­tween eight to 12 weeks to iden­tify and fully re­pair,” he said. “The En­ergy Min­is­ter will re­quest that West­ern Power re­views the re­pair ac­tiv­i­ties in Woodvale and Kings­ley in depth and pro­vide de­tailed ad­vice about whether any fur­ther process im­prove­ments are war­ranted.”

THOU­SANDS of dol­lars worth of up­grades will be made to street light­ing in Woodvale fol­low­ing an “un­usual in­crease in faults”, ac­cord­ing to a West­ern Power spokesman.

Since Jan­uary, West­ern Power iden­ti­fied sev­eral is­sues with the un­der­ground power sys­tem af­fect­ing 43 lights over 11 cir­cuits, where sec­tions of ca­ble were no longer fit for ser­vice.

Kings­ley MLA Jes­sica Sto­jkovski said the un­der­ground net­work in Woodvale was about 40 years old and needed to be up­graded.

“I am con­cerned that the lights have been out for an ex­tended pe­riod of time. This is a very im­por­tant is­sue, par­tic­u­larly as they pro­vide both real and per­ceived safety for res­i­dents, which is why we have been in reg­u­lar contact with West­ern Power about this is­sue,” she said.

“The Woodvale street lights are an ex­am­ple of the com­plex­i­ties of ca­ble faults and the sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment that is made to main­tain the un­der­ground net­works by West­ern Power.”

The West­ern Power spokesman said an $80,000 up­grade to the un­der­ground net­work was be­ing fi­nalised to ad­dress cur­rent light­ing is­sues af­ter re­ceiv­ing an in­creased num­ber of fault re­ports from res­i­dents.

“Given this un­usual in­crease in fault re­ports for the area, we ini­ti­ated an au­dit of the net­work to see if the cause was due to an un­der­ground ca­ble fault,” he said.

“This project to up­grade the net­work be­gan in March 2018 and the fi­nal lights for this project are due to be re-en­er­gised shortly.

“As well as the up­grad­ing of the un­der­ground ca­ble to meet mod­ern stan­dards, the net­work was also re­designed to en­sure fu­ture bale faults could be iso­lated to a sin­gle light rather than an en­tire cir­cuit.”

Op­po­si­tion com­mu­nity ser­vices spokesman Tjorn Sibma. d484529

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