Print

At our January Conservancy meeting, Eskom representatives made a presentation and answered a few questions from members. Eskom did its best to explain the reasons for the frequent, prolonged unplanned outages in the summer months, and told us of their plans for improvement.

We appreciate Eskom's willingness to engage with a frustrated and often hostile customer group, and to invite us to meet with their engineering management group. Richard Wadley did just that the very next day and reports the following: The principal immediate cause of the intolerable level of power outages being experienced in our area is that two major distribution lines in particular – the VS and VB lines – are seriously over-extended both in terms of overall line length and the number of users on the lines. The VS line, for example, is 735km in length, making it possibly the longest distribution line in the world! Other lines serving the area have similar, though lesser problems. In both instances, the solution developed for these problematic lines was the construction of new sub-stations: at Dorset for the VS line and at Bulge Rivier for the VB line. The Dorset sub-station has been planned for many years, but its construction has been delayed by various factors, not least the intransigence of some landowners who refused to grant servitudes over their land. On behalf of the Conservancy, I offered to do whatever we could as a community to assist Eskom in resolving such issues, including lobbying involved landowners to be more cooperative, in the interests of the broader community.

t appears that the obstacles in front of a decision to proceed with the Dorset sub-station have now been cleared; and that those relating to the Bulge Rivier sub-station are close to resolution. I have appealed directly to Ms Nosipho Maphumulo (General Manager, Northern Region) to do everything in her power to expedite the construction of the Dorset (and Bulge) sub-stations in the current financial year.

In the meanwhile, I believe it is imperative that a moratorium be declared on accepting any new Eskom customers on either of these lines until the sub-stations have been built and the pressure on them alleviated. I was amazed and distressed to learn from one of the Eskom speakers at the Conservancy meeting that new customers were still being accepted, notwithstanding the fact that this was compounding the already dire technical problems associated with the lines. Clearly, this is an unacceptable practice and must be suspended.

The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) has made much of the tourism potential of the Waterberg region and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve in particular. Many lodges in the area have subscribed to participation in the provincial effort to arrange accommodation for visitors attending the Soccer World Cup matches in Polokwane next year. And, tourism in general has been identified as the principal driver of economic growth and social upliftment in the Waterberg. However, the harsh reality is that, in the absence of a reliable, sustainable supply of electricity from Eskom, there can be no growth; and the facilities already in place are becoming discredited because they cannot guarantee their guests uninterrupted power.