Over a week and R23 million to restore power to parts of Joburg

City Power’s Charles Tlouane says it will cost roughly R23 million to reroute interconnector cables from the Fordsburg substation to Braamfontein after a fire under the M1 highway knocked out power to several parts of Johannesburg.

Tlouane also said the work would “take quite some time”, with the municipal power utility estimating it would take at least eight days to complete.

“Redirecting cables and making sure everything is done without interrupting any power supplies of some of the existing cables feeding from the stations that are there,” he said.

“So that work in its entirety is going to cost around R23 million.”

Tlouane updated the media on the repair process after an attempted cable theft ignited a large fire underneath the M1 highway, resulting in extended power outages in large areas of Johannesburg.

Criminals allegedly targeted copper cables on a double-decker segment of the M1 highway feeding the Braamfontein area.

In their failed attempt to steal the copper cabling, they damaged several 88kV and 11kV cables, a gas line, and an oil-filled cable.

The resulting fire knocked out power to parts of Braamfontein, Parkview, Parktown, Melville, Amalgam, and Vrededorp.

City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava said it also threatened the recently relaunched open cycle gas turbine nearby, which she said had cost R100 million to refurbish.

Mashava said cable theft is worsening in Johannesburg and wrote to national police commissioner Fannie Masemola, calling for army intervention.

Over a week and R23 million to restore power to parts of Joburg
Tshifularo Mashava, City Power CEO

She described cable theft and vandalism as “escalating unabatedly”, adding that it poses a significant threat to the stability of the city’s power supply.

City Power has already spent more than R160 million in the current financial year repairing infrastructure damaged by theft and vandalism.

This isn’t the first time Mashava has warned of the risks posed by theft and vandalism.

In September 2023, she said the city’s electricity network was on the brink of collapse due to theft, vandalism, and load-shedding.

She said City power didn’t have enough resources to address the 4,000-odd faults residents lodge daily. It only has enough manpower to attend to roughly 20% of the issues.

Mashava revealed that, due to breakdowns and crime, City Power had used a year’s worth of replacement parts in just three months.

Crime syndicates targeting copper infrastructure in Johannesburg appear to be becoming more brazen and dangerous.

Two incidents happened in Soweto in recent years, one of which was in broad daylight.

In Nancefield, a group of thieves pulled 180m of copper cabling — estimated at R60,000 — out of the ground with a bakkie in full view of everyone around.

The other resulted in a shootout after community members intervened to protect the infrastructure from cable thieves in Eldorado Park.

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Over a week and R23 million to restore power to parts of Joburg

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