Joburg residents block road with rubbish bins, debris in service delivery protest

14 November 2023 - 13:42
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Northriding residents blocked a road with rubbish bins to protest about electricity outages.
Northriding residents blocked a road with rubbish bins to protest about electricity outages.
Image: Supplied via Devon Steenkamp

After days without power in their suburb, residents from Northriding, Johannesburg, briefly barricaded a road with rubbish bins and debris on Tuesday.

According to ward councillor Devon Steenkamp, the group was dispersed by metro police and local security companies.

“It was a short protest for an hour,” he said.

Steenkamp said residents were frustrated after City Power experienced multiple faults in the area.

He said he hadn't received a report on what caused the most recent outage but it sounded like it was due to overloading or a stolen cable.

“I haven't got a full report and that is the frustration. How will I relay the information to residents if City Power is not providing a detailed report?”

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said technicians were working to fix the outages.

“There were multiple faults. Repairs were completed last night, and this morning operators were on site to restore power to customers.”

The problems are ongoing. Steenkamp said residents have long been complaining about multiple faults and delayed deployment of technicians to handle repairs.

He said feedback from City Power was vague and while they always indicated they were sending teams, after a few hours they would indicate technicians were redirected to sort out outages in other areas, such as Bryanston.

“It's been frustrating. They keep saying they are on their way and it doesn't seem they arrive this side. It's been going on like that with very vague messages regarding the area.”

Steenkamp said on Tuesday he called senior officials at City Power to establish what was delaying restoration. He said they told him there were challenges since they took over the load-shedding schedule from Eskom.

“City Power has informed me their efforts have been hampered by the load-shedding schedules, which have required their teams to be constantly on the move addressing issues across different areas. This has delayed the restoration of power to our community.

“It is challenging for them. The operator no longer reports to the depot. They now report to more of a senior operating level that directs them where to go to [manually] to switch on and off load-shedding schedules.”

Steenkamp said an operator was the only person who could test and confirm if he was satisfied when work was completed by contractors or City Power technicians.

“He is the one who is about to switch on power supply and by the time he gets near the site, he receives a call from the senior operating level to go to another area to switch off or switch on the power supply due to load-shedding.”

A better system was needed to manage the twin challenges of outages and load-shedding schedules, he said.

“How is City Power ever going to focus on outages when they are constantly on the road going to switch power on and off? They told me they have been discussing the matter and are trying to find workable solutions.” 

Last month, City Power said it had beefed up teams in the Randburg service delivery centre to get to the bottom of outages in Northriding, Olivedale, and surrounding areas.

“The area has been experiencing constant outages in recent months due to, among others, equipment failure, vandalism, theft and cable faults.

“We understand residents' frustration about not having a power supply for extended periods.

“A team is working on completing a lasting solution to provide residents with a stable electricity supply.”

Northriding's electricity supply was also affected in September and October.

A cable was damaged during a Johannesburg Water project in September, City Power said.

“The power supply often tripped due to the limitation of working in a waterlogged area with multiple service cables. Further delays were caused while waiting for water to be drained.

“A team worked on another cable to temporarily restore the power supply, which was successful on September 25. Unfortunately, the temporary supply could not handle the load, and another trip happened. At the same time the operators ran a fault and worked on repairs. A permanent solution was to separate the electricity cables from other service cables to avoid further damage. The power supply was restored on September 30.

“On October 10, the power supply tripped again on a phase fault. A team worked on repairs but another fault was found upon restoration. The team came across many challenges caused by the location of cables,” the entity said.


subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.