Johannesburg faces R17bn electricity infrastructure challenge

09 November 2017

The neglect of the previous administration has resulted in the City of Johannesburg requiring an investment of around R17-billion over the next ten years to upgrade its ageing electricity infrastructure.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said his administration was facing serious infrastructure backlog challenges, compounded by an ageing network, theft and vandalism, a backlog in asset renewal and bulk tariff trajectory.

“We have one electricity substation that supplies the entire inner city of Johannesburg. It is 75 years old, 30 years past its useful lifespan,” Mashaba said, referring to the Cleveland substation, which is now undergoing a R180-million refurbishment.

“Some of our medium-voltage underground cables are 45 years old and the problematic areas include the inner city, Roosevelt, Parkhurst, Roodepoort and parts of Rueven. The replacement parts are difficult to source as some of the circuit breakers were installed in 1929,” said Mashaba.

He further highlighted that theft and corruption remained significantly challenging and was costing the city millions each year.

“City Power had been robbed blind by a company that had been paid massive sums of money even though there was no real work to build substations in Hopefield and Eldorado Park.

“Just over a month ago, the inner city was plunged into darkness due to stolen underground cables,” said Mashaba.

About R76-million was spent on security measures in an attempt to curb cable theft and vandalism in the 2016/17 financial year.

The low-voltage overhead copper conductors are also being converted to aerial bundle conductors aimed at solving power outages caused by cable theft.

“The Eskom tariff trajectory is going up, impacting adversely on industry and residential areas. The city does not have sufficient budget for the renewal of bulk infrastructure. We are trying hard to attract investors. A total of R481-million is required to electrify formal and informal settlements over the medium term.”

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