On Sunday, residents waited outside this electricity substation at Maluti-A-Phofung municipality, pleading with the contractor to get power restored after a six day outage. But crucial components are only set to arrive on Thursday. Photo: Yamkela Mopeli
On Sunday, residents waited outside this electricity substation at Maluti-A-Phofung municipality, pleading with the contractor to get power restored after a six day outage. But crucial components are only set to arrive on Thursday. Photo: Yamkela Mopeli

Since Monday afternoon last week, an electricity substation at Maluti-A-Phofung municipality has been down. Harrismith, including Lotusville, Westerson and Wilgerpark areas and some farms in the vicinity, have been left without power.

Many businesses have been forced to close and thousands of residents have been left to struggle without electricity.

Eustarity International (PTY) Ltd is fixing the station. New switch gears, which are crucial components, were ordered from Johannesburg and are expected to arrive on 15 September. So far, temporary fixes have failed.

One of the crew, who did not want his name published, told GroundUp: “The damage is huge. It is a mess inside there. It is clear that the station has not been maintained … The maximum lifespan for switch gears should be 25 years, and here they are from the 1970s.”


He said they started work on Saturday.

On Sunday, a handful of residents waited the entire day outside the substation near the N5, pleading with the contractors to restore power.

There have also been water outages in some areas for four days as the pump station is unable to pump water, according to ward 6 Councillor Eleanor Quinta (DA).

He said businesses without generators have closed their doors. Those with generators are spending thousands on fuel.

“Outages like this also increase the likelihood of burglaries as the nights are dark and alarm companies are not able to perform their duties as alarm systems are off. This power outage also increases the theft of power cables,” said Quinta.

Nazeera Hansa, who sells cakes in Harrismith, says she has lost thousands in revenue. “I had to throw away stock to the value of R3,000 due to fridges turned off. My staff were not at work the whole week as a result. I cannot pay them. I feel hopeless and powerless about the future of my business,” she said.

Municipality spokesperson Thabo Kessah did not respond to our request for updates on the situation.

Published originally on GroundUp

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