POWER CRISIS UPDATE: Transformer burns, no replacement

05 January 2017  Read: 1318


Last night (04 January) a transformer burnt out in the Henley farms area just on the outskirts of Letsitele. This has caused a number of operations in that area to be left in the dark as the Greater Tzaneen Municipality’s electrical infrastructure continues to crumble.

There are no transformers available to replace the one which burnt out last night, and this means that businesses, residents and farmers in that area will possibly be left without power for up to ten days.

To repair (rewind) a transformer could take up to six weeks.

According to our information, there is only one transformer that could be used in the meantime – but it is currently installed in Haenertsburg and will need a special vehicle to be lifted out and transported to Henley.

A transformer weighs approximately 10 tons and the possibility of reaching this particular unit is slim due to the heavy rains received in that area this last week.

Due to the GTM’s silence regarding this incident, we have had to conduct our own investigations into the matter resulting in some alarming (albeit not officially confirmed – or denied – by the GTM) findings:

  • Some property owners in the Eiland area pay an “availability fee” for electricity supply each month of around R1 500 before they pay for their consumption. These areas have suffered outages of up to six hours per day since the start of December 2016.
  • There are big produce operations in Letsitele area that pay up to a million Rand a month for electricity consumption to run their pack houses, nurseries and transport operations.
  • Some of the land owners have made known publically that they are considering refusing to pay their monthly service fee as they are not receiving their money’s worth. In fact, some have reported substantial loss of income due to the GTM’s failing system.
  • It is alleged that there is currently a number of transformers standing at an engineering firm’s premises that need to be rewound. These have allegedly been standing there for more than a year without the go-ahead from the GTM for the rewinding to be done. Had the repairs been approved a year ago, the Henley transformer would have had a replacement.
  • Eskom reportedly looked at the possibility of providing power directly to the farmers in this area – effectively bypassing the GTM. But, according to unconfirmed reports, they declined due to the extent of the infrastructure’s decay which would have made it financially unviable for them.
  • The GTM has placed a bid notice on their website for the “Appointment of a pool of consultants for electrical professional services at Greater Tzaneen Municipality Areas” (BID NO: SCMU 15/2016). We have attached an image of that bid document to this article.

An official inquiry concerning all of these findings as well as other related matters has once again been forwarded to Neville Ndlala, the spokesperson of the GTM. In the meantime the dastardly situation and the non-information from the municipality has led many residents to believe one of two possible scenarios:

  1. Either the GTM does not have the necessary skills in its labour pool to tend to, and mend, this dire situation, or
  2. This could be politically motivated.

Whatever the reasons, the situation at the moment is desperate and Bulletin will continue our investigations into this matter. We have also attemtped to get comment from Eskom. Stay informed by following us on Facebook here.



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