Joburg hit by mass blackouts as minister denies load shedding

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Joburg’s electricity provider, City Power, says it is experiencing a high number of outages across parts of the city “due to the current low temperatures”.

On Wednesday, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, stressed that reported power outages in Soweto are not as a result of Eskom load shedding, but rather due to illegal connections.

The department noted that power frequently goes out at about the same time on cold winter nights and people mistake these outages for load shedding.

It stressed that Eskom has not implemented load shedding for 10 months, except for two hours and 20 minutes during this period. Eskom will inform its customers including municipalities and the general public before it implements load shedding.

“The network overloads because too many people are trying to use a network which is designed for one household per stand. Also, customers who are not paying for their electricity tend to be wasteful in the way they use it,” Brown said.

“Illegal connections and electricity theft overstretch our resources slowing down Eskom and the municipalities’ service delivery to legal power users. This also includes overloading call centres where agents handle over a thousand calls every 30 minutes.

“It is unacceptable that people are still continuing with illegal connections, while Government has a free basic electricity policy to protect the indigent from high electricity prices,” Brown said.

City Power said in a statement:

“City Power technicians have been hard at work and will continue to work on the outages until supply is restored to all affected areas.

“City Power wishes to apologize profusely to its customers for any inconvenience these unplanned outages may have caused.

“We appeal to our customers to help us reduce overloading by switching off all non-essential appliances and utilise electricity sparingly”.

Eskom’s CEO Brian Molefe has said that the power utility does not expect to shed load for the remainder of the year, following almost daily cuts in power for long periods of 2015.

BusinessTech

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