Kempton Park residents who have been without power since Saturday were left angry and disappointed after a full restoration set for 18:00 on Tuesday didn’t materialise

The City of Ekurhuleni tweeted: “We have begun a process to restore customers and due to unforeseen circumstances, and taking safety precaution considerations, we will start restoring customers from 22:00 on [Tuesday] evening.”

But 22:00 came and went and many suburbs are yet to have power restored.

Speaking to Radio 702 on Wednesday, City energy department head Mark Wilson said that, owing to unforeseen delays, power would be fully restored by Wednesday afternoon, or by Thursday “at the latest”.

Electricity supply to parts of Kempton Park was completely cut off following a blast at the Glen Marais substation on Saturday, News24 reported.

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Since then, the City has been battling to restore power to all affected suburbs.

According to Wilson, a fire at the substation caused a circuit breaker to explode. An entire 25-panel switchboard was destroyed, he said.

“This was because of cable theft,” Wilson said. He cited cable theft as a major problem in the area, but said that new technology was being employed to combat the scourge.

Switched on in stages

“Power is being switched on in stages and no priority is given to any areas. As you switch on a substation you get massive increases in the load, so you don’t want to trip it. As something is repaired, people are switched on,” Wilson said.

“I understand the frustrations of the community. The original prognosis [for restoration] was Tuesday evening. But before we can switch on, one of the practices is to test our [brand-new] switch gear. Unfortunately, they failed the test due to a carbon buildup caused by the fire.”

This meant that power could not be restored by 18:00, or by 22:00, as communicated by the City on Twitter. Residents reacted with fury over the delay.

“We managed to clear the carbon overnight and four of the new panels have been tested and have tested clean.”

Wilson said power should be restored by Wednesday afternoon, or on Thursday “at the latest”.

He asked residents to reduce their usage to the minimum, which will enable the repaired substations to supply power to all residents while further repairs were being carried out.

Many people took to Twitter to vent their frustration.