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Onrus in the dark

Residents in Onrus and Vermont have been experiencing numerous unplanned power outages over the last two weeks.

Jean Orban, councillor for Ward 13, which includes Onrus and Vermont, says there are various reasons for the outages. But what compounded the issue is that Eskom’s call centre was of no help.

“Its call centre is totally and utterly incompetent, and has no clue of what is going on,” Orban said. “Because it is an entity on its own I have no oversight mandate over it. There is no direct line to it, as some residents have suggested.”

Residents at Kidbrook Place Retirement Village were left without power for an entire week, from Saturday 11 July to Saturday 18 July.

“From what I can gather, a main line was blown over by the wind,” Orban said. “Eskom had to lay new lines to Kidbrook Place to repair the problem permanently. Fortunately, Kidbrook arranged a generator to assist residents in keeping their mobile phones and portable lights charged. Hopefully this is the last of it, and our residents can carry on with their lives, as per normal.”

Caroline Gabb from Onrus says she felt sorry for the elderly at Kidbrook who had to live without power for an entire week in winter.

Trish da Silva, Western Cape Communications Officer at Eskom, confirmed the entity was experiencing a high number of faults in greater Cape Town and parts of the Western Cape, after the recent storms had caused severe damage to network infrastructure.

“Due to the extreme storm damage to the network, customers in some areas are experiencing prolonged periods without electricity,” she explained. “Operators are working round the clock to repair equipment and restore supply to customers.”

Western Cape General Manager for Distribution at Eskom Alwie Lester acknowledged the frustration customers are experiencing.

“Multiple teams of operators have been and will continue to be dispatched into the affected areas to ensure the electricity supply is restored as soon as possible,” he said. “I wish to apologise sincerely to all our customers who are experiencing long periods without electricity during this extremely cold winter.”

Orban thanked Eskom for solving the problems eventually. “I do wish to express my gratitude to the Eskom teams that were working in trying circumstances and until very late at night, to try and get the electricity restored,” he said. “I was on site with them, and they worked really hard.”

Gabb also thanked Eskom for going the extra mile in a difficult situation.

Orban appealed to residents to realise the importance of keeping their trees trimmed and maintained.

“Even though we had a severe storm the power supply would not have been interrupted if residents had maintained their trees,” he said. “If you have trees in your yard, please keep them trimmed and maintained at all times.”

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