City Power pulls plug on night shift

Change is for safety reasons and to save resources — only skeleton team will work at night to attend to outages affecting large areas

20 February 2023 - 15:41
By Belinda Pheto
City Power says it has stopped staff from working night shifts and only a skeleton team works at night to attend to outages affecting large parts. File photo.
Image: thulani mbele City Power says it has stopped staff from working night shifts and only a skeleton team works at night to attend to outages affecting large parts. File photo.

Johannesburg's City Power has changed its staff shift system, cutting out night shifts due to safety concerns and to maximise resources. 

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena told TimesLIVE: “We have cut out night-shift work and the new model is based on 'four days in and four days out' cycle.”

He said the the new system would cut wastage because there was little work to do at night. 

“The night-shift staff did not deal with as much demand as the day shift, resulting in strained resources and poor response during the day.

“The number of attacks on personnel was heightened at night. The organisation also took a strategic decision to focus on medium- and high-voltage (these are area outages and mini-substation issues, for example) at night. We are a customer-centric organisation that is constantly reviewing operations to make our services more accessible,” Mangena said.

However, they run a 24-hour essential service and subcontractors only leave when they finish the job at hand, not necessarily at 6pm.

“Internal operators work at night and cannot abandon work because of time,” Mangena said. 

He highlighted the added strain on infrastructure due to load-shedding, as the infrastructure was never meant to be switched on and off at short regular intervals.

Mini substations, pole-mounted transformers and transformers often catch fire or fail after load-shedding due to, among other things, overloading and power surges.

“Additionally, increasing theft and vandalism is a major problem across the city and further affects replacement demands. We are under siege with cable theft and vandalism.

“Criminals work with the load-shedding schedule to avoid electrocution or detection. It is only when load-shedding ends that customers log calls that power did not come back. It is important for customers to log calls as we may not be aware of it, as our remote system does not cover certain areas.”

Mangena said City Power is in communication with customers when power is not restored and they escalate the matter as and when it happens.

“We encourage our customers to allow 30 minutes after load-shedding for restoration. In cases where there is a fault, teams are dispatched urgently to resolve the outage,” he said.

'They must ask for escorts': ward councillor 

Ward 89 councillor Leah Knott said though she partly understood City Power's decision to cut night-shift staff due to safety concerns, she believed the issue could be resolved by asking for assistance from the police, community policing forums (CPFs) and metro police. 

“They must ask for escorts. I know of cases where CPFs offered assistance and said City Power must inform them of where their technicians are assigned and they will be there to offer protection.”

She also said though technicians would not work on small outages that might affect a household, street or block, it was a bit of compensation that a skeleton staff was still available to work on large outages that affect a big area. 


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