Let there be traffic lights! (and power)

Posted On Friday, 11 March 2005 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Lindsay Williams spends a frustrating day - along with many other motorists - stuck in gridlocked traffic without traffic lights due to power outages. With Silas Zimu from City Power


Property-Housing-ResidentialLINDSAY WILLIAMS: At 2.15pm I picked up my daughter from school, we traveled along the William Nicol towards the Sandton area. The traffic was flowing beautifully. Get to Hyde Park, then it started - no traffic lights, whatsoever. Although it wasn’t the busiest time of day - you could see the traffic building up. Drop my daughter off - go to Summit TV in the Rosebank area. Get there - absolutely no power whatsoever. They say: "Go to Classic FM studios in Braamfontein - we’ll do the show from there." I drive up to the Zoo - the traffic lights are still out. As you get into Johannesburg the lights are back. They phone: "Right, the power is back in Rosebank." I go back, but the traffic lights are still out. I’m getting really, really irritated. What is going on? So many power cuts, so frequent - disrupting business and everybody’s lives! Let’s talk about today - what was the problem today?

SILAS ZIMU: It affected all of us! You’re part of the global community that is in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg electricity network is old. It’s known, from the manufacturer that sold that equipment in 1933, that it was never replaced. We came up with a program to upgrade, and refurbish the different parts of Johannesburg - depending on priority. Today one of the original equipment manufacturers was working at Delta Substation - they had to do a test to check whether what they were doing was responding positively. During that test the whole board was brought down. Why we started this project is most of the time when Delta goes out many areas get affected - we’re busy reconfiguring the network through Delta so that only a few customers will be affected when there is a major failure in a transmission network like Delta Substation.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: Why do the test during the day? Why can’t you do the test on a Sunday when businesses are not going to be affected? When there is less traffic volume on the roads? Surely that’s logical?

SILAS ZIMU: The fact that you and I work Monday to Friday doesn’t mean that factories are closed on weekends, and at night.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: For goodness sake, we know that Sunday is not a big business day! Even if it’s only 50 per cent - surely there was a better time to do it? I saw accidents! I’m not just talking about business here!

SILAS ZIMU: I can tell you’re still agitated - let’s calm down. Then we can listen to each other. We can then question each other, and answer each other.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: I just want to get some answers!

SILAS ZIMU: To upgrade this network with state of the art design, as in this major refurbishment, we should have switched off Delta Substation - meaning that areas like Northcliff, Berario, Blackheath, Craighall Park, Montgomery Park, Emmarentia and Parkview should have been off for the whole day. But we said: "It can be done without switching off the customers." It shouldn’t have gone off, but because of the old design the relay the ABB guys pulled out affected the others - but it shouldn’t have. We are preparing for winter so that if anything (for example) happens to a feeder for Forest Town - it should only affect Forest Town, and should be easy for us to restore.

LINDSAY WILLIAMS: Before we get into too many technical details - have you got enough money? Have you got enough resources? Have you got enough skills to make sure this sort of thing is not as frequent as it has been in the last few months?

SILAS ZIMU: Skills - yes, the industry has got enough. City Power has got enough skills. We’ve got a mix of original equipment manufacturers, independent contractors and internal staff working on the network. Obviously not everyone is as experienced as the next person, but there are development programs in place, and people have been put onto training programs. Those not authorized to operate are not even allowed to touch the network. On the money side - the City of Johannesburg gave us enough money to do the planning, and we’ve already got a plan that the City is sitting with now. They’re looking at how they can put in more money. In the next financial year our funds are being increased by more than R120-million.

Last modified on Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:17

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