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High-voltage power lines don’t just collapse — update on big Pretoria outage

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    Nat Quinn
    Vandalism and theft are top-of-mind for investigators trying to determine what caused seven electricity pylons to collapse along the N4 highway on Sunday, 9 April 2023.
    This is according to Tshwane MMC for Utilities and Regional Operations councillor Themba Fosi, who said human influence is the suspected cause of the collapse.
    “With the sporadic vandalism around the city, that [vandalism] is the number one suspect,” Fosi said in an interview with 702.
    “Pylons can’t just fall. They are stress tested, and we can confirm that we suspect that.”
    He added that engineers are still busy investigating the cause of the collapse and that we should have a better idea of what happened by noon on Tuesday, 11 April.
    “We can’t conclusively say that this is what caused the problem, but the investigation is ongoing. I think by midday today, we should be able to know what caused the fall over,” Fosi said.
    The councillor briefly explained how seven pylons collapsed after the first fell over.
    “The cable was now on a washing line basis. So, it was knocked by a truck, and eventually, all seven pylons fell over,” Fosi said.
    While around 50% of Pretoria East, North, and Centurion residents have had their power restored following the collapse, there is still no estimated restoration time for the remaining customers.
    “We can’t give timeframes, but we can give you milestones,” Fosi responded to a question about an estimated restoration time.
    “Since yesterday, around about 21:00 or 22:00, about 50% of the consumers were already back because they were back-fed via another substation.”
    “It is only the Mamelodi and Waltloo areas that are still in the dark,” he added.
    However, residents in these areas could still be without power for days, as the councillor explained that commissioning electricity pylons takes time.
    “It’s going to be a couple of days because now to commission a pylon is a huge exercise. They need to be commissioned, built up, and taken to the site. The cables also need to be commissioned,” Fosi said.
    “We’ve got a 24-hour programme with Eskom and the City of Tshwane trying to salvage the situation.”
    Pro Med EMS responded to reports of a motor vehicle accident on the N4 highway, finding that several collapsed power pylons had caused a multiple-vehicle collision.
    Seven electricity pylons collapsed along the N4 highway between the Solomon Mahlangu and Simon Vermooten off-ramps at around 21:00 on Sunday, 9 April, bringing down 132 kV powerlines across the motorway.
    The collapse tripped the Njala substation — one of the primary infeed substations from Eskom into the City of Tshwane.
    As of Monday evening, Tshwane confirmed the following areas were affected:
    • Lyttelton — Restored
    • Die Hoewes — Restored
    • Moreleta Park — Restored
    • Baviaanspoort Prison
    • Boschkop
    • Bultfontein
    • Derdepoort (Zambezi Manor)
    • Donkerhoek
    • Doornpoort
    • Eersterust
    • Equestria
    • Faerie Glen
    • Garsfontein
    • Glenway Estate
    • Grootvlei East
    • Grootvlei West
    • Kameeldrift
    • Kilner Park
    • Leeuwfontein
    • Mamelodi
    • Montana Park
    • Mooikloof
    • Mooiplaats
    • Môregloed
    • Olympus
    • Pretorius Park
    • Pretorius Park ext40
    • Pumulani
    • Roodepark
    • Rooiwal
    • Sable Hills
    • Shere
    • Silver Lakes
    • Silverton
    • Sinoville
    • Six Fountains
    • The Wilds
    • Vastfontein extension
    • Waltloo
    • Wapadrand
    • Waterval
    • Waverley
    • Willow Acres
    • Woodhill
    • Woodlands
    • Woodlands Boulevard
    • Zeekoegat
    • Zwavelpoort
    Tshwane mayor Cilliers Brink alluded to criminal vandalism being the cause of the collapse in a video statement published on Monday morning.
    “There’s been several attempts over a period of time to steal the metal that forms part of the pylon construction. There’s the possibility that this is, in fact, what happened last night,” Brink said, citing the area’s councillors.
    “So not one attempt — several attempts and several repairs. In fact, when you look at the steel structure of the pylon, you can actually see where the repair work has been done.”
    Fosi said the municipality is deploying Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department resources to prevent further criminality that could impact the electricity network.


    source:High-voltage power lines don’t just collapse — update on big Pretoria outage (mybroadband.co.za)

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