Five mobile transformers were delivered to State-owned power utility Eskom’s Mkondeni unit, in KwaZulu-Natal, in March.
The plan to buy the five 132/88-22/11KV mobile transformers started in 2011 and was followed by a rigorous procurement process. Industrial corporation Siemens was awarded the contract to manufacture the units.
The names given to the five mobile transformers are: Inyala-Unyazi (springbok – star), Idube- Inkayimana (zebra – freighter), Ingwe-Isivuthevuthe (leopard – flames of fire), Ibhubesi- Ukhokhovula (lion – boss) and Inkunzi-Indlovu (bull – elephant).
Eskom indicates that mobile transformers are of great value, as they make it possible to quickly restore electricity following a power outage that is caused by a storm, for example, or due to any other natural disaster. These mobile transformers help provide temporary service while permanent facilities are being constructed.
Moreover, they can also be used to replace existing equipment during scheduled maintenance. The company notes that another benefit is the shortened outage periods for customers, which Eskom notes will “delight” its customers.
“This achievement will help Eskom fulfil its mandate of delivering high-quality service to all South African customers,” says Eskom distribution group executive Mongezi Ntsokolo.
He says the units will bring improved resilience to the network, ensuring that, in addition to delivering on Eskom’s service mandate, Eskom improves on its restoration times as well as the availability of supply to its customers.
Cable Theft in KwaZulu-Natal
An ongoing challenge to Eskom’s uninterrupted supply of power to its customers has been persistent cable theft, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.
Last month, members of Eskom’s Security Investigations team arrested four men who were found in possession of a stolen overhead conductor cable in Howick, KwaZulu-Natal.
The arrest came after three of the suspects were observed leaving an area where a high-voltage overhead power line had just been cut.
“Our security officers were conducting routine surveillance when they noticed sparks in the night sky along Petrus Stroom road, in Dargle, near Howick,” says Eskom security divisional executive Tebogo Rakau.
The sparks caught the attention of the security officers as power lines run across that area. When they approached to investigate, they saw three men on the side of the road. A few hours later, a white minibus was seen travelling towards the waiting men. When it stopped, the men started loading what looked like rolls of cable into the minibus, Rakau explains.
“The quick reaction of our officers ensured that all suspects, including the driver of the minibus, were arrested on the scene,” he remarks.
A search of the vehicle and the suspects revealed ten rolls of stolen copper conductor cable, hacksaws, side cutters, large pliers and a 9 mm Norinco pistol. The suspects as well as the evidence were handed over to the Howick South African Police Service.
“Even though the thieves were apprehended very quickly, significant damage to important infrastructure had already occurred. “In this case, it disrupted power distribution between Howick and the Midmar dam, which supplies water to large parts of KwaZulu-Natal, including Pinetown, Cato Ridge and Umlazi,” Rakau adds.
He explains that the far-reaching effects of cable theft and damage to other electricity infrastructure include not only power supply interruption but also the impact on other essential services, such as water supply, healthcare services and learning at schools.
“While Eskom remains resolute in the fight against cable theft, we implore each resident to play a part in protecting the public infrastructure that we all benefit from. “This can be done by reporting those involved in this crime by sending anonymous SMS tip-offs to Crime Line on 32211,” he concludes.