Frontier under threat due to power cuts
ICU, theatre at hospital sitting in darkness for days
The Frontier Hospital intensive care unit (ICU), the hospital theatre and the dispensary were some of the facilities under threat at the public institution due to a power outage affecting the Top Town area since Saturday evening.
An inside source who asked to remain anonymous said some of the hospitals ventilation machines were non-functional to due to the outage.
The Rep was also made aware the hospital does not have a reliable backup system to ensure the facility is operational.
“We are in complete darkness. When the power goes off the ICU and the theatre are non-functional, almost as if they are non-existent. The situation is bad,” said the source.
The Rep reporter did rounds at the hospital this week and was met with dark passages with a few lights in some of the hospital wards.
Hospital CEO Dr Zukiso Nxiweni asked The Rep to direct any related questions to the provincial spokesperson and the EMLM municipal manager.
The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality issued a statement on its Facebook page indicating the area had been hit by a cable fault on the main line between Grey and Beswick streets, a cable which was recently repaired. The fault was caused by underground water.
A contractor was appointed and a cable “of about 100m” was sourced.
Department of health provincial spokesperson Yonela Dekeda said the outage happened at a time when the department was conducting repairs in one of the generators at the facility.
“In total, we have six generators at Frontier. Only one needed to be repaired. There was no period when the whole facility was in complete darkness, but there are certain areas that were affected. The generator that was faulty has been repaired,” said Dekeda.
Responding to questions sent by The Rep on Thursday, EMLM spokesperson Lonwabo Kowa said power supply had been restored in Top Top. “Energising was done gradually and the Frontier Hospital area was the first to be switched.”
However, a resident confirmed that electricity was restored but was off again after 30 minutes on Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, after reportedly going months without electricity, fed-up residents of Unathi Mkefa in Ezibeleni vented their fury by blockading the entrance to the EMLM technical services department with burning tyres on Wednesday morning.
It was the second protest in as many days amid a police and Red Guard Security presence.
The department’s employees who had deserted their workplace were spotted standing next to vehicles metres away.
The protesting residents complained that the municipality had not responded to their cries for weeks and they had had enough.
“This community has been without electricity for three months. Our challenge is that [the EMLM] has been making promises but not fulfilling them,” said Thulani Bukani of the Independent Komani Residents’ Association (Ikora), which supported the residents’ action.
He said the association had been assisting the residents in communicating with the municipality and learnt from the department’s director that the problem was that they did not have readily available transformers due to theft. He said the director had promised the residents’ electricity problem would be fixed in three days’ time but nothing was done and there was no response forthcoming.
“I will call these promises lies because none of them have been fulfilled – there is no response from the municipality and the cellphones of the people we are supposed to be talking to are all off.
“Their excuse has been their truck has been taken off the road due to unpaid traffic fines. It shows there is no consequence management at this municipality,” Bukani said.
Affected resident Nombasa Pringane said a month had gone without electricity since an explosion of the substation in her yard. “We are receiving no assistance from the municipality. My TV and fridge have been damaged because of the substation. We struggle with paraffin, gas and, as someone who is in the business of selling meat, I have had to throw away a lot of it. The municipality is failing us.”
Another resident, Nokhwezi Msindwana, said reporting their problem to their councillor had not yielded any positive response.
“Even coming here does not really help because yesterday we sat here the whole day with no help. We are hungry and tired. We don’t know if we have a municipality or not.”