South Africa — Pollution and the large number of fires that have ravaged KwaZulu-Natal are playing havoc with electricity transmission lines.
Eskom on Tuesday blamed a major power outage in the south coast, Empangeni and Matubatuba regions on pollution. And with hundreds of fires being reported, pollution levels and possible outages are expected to rise.
“The main cause of the outage is the pollution that has built up as a result of a lack of rain, which is made worse by the fires and heat over the past.
These faults occur at night when there is a drop in temperature,” Eskom regional communication manager Joyce Zingoni said.
Durban Electricity deputy head Roy Wienand meanwhile said high winds, and not fires had bedevilled the city electricity network.
In most cases branches had fallen against power lines, or trees had swayed into electricity cables, tripping them.
It took 24 hours for technicians to restore all the trips after high winds on Friday alone, Wienand said.
“We are not aware of any particularly large areas without power on Tuesday, but the high winds did cause dozens of faults. Fortunately we do not tend to have as many veld fires causing trip outs as Eskom.
Concern is however growing that runaway veld fires could trip major overhead power lines, which are particularly susceptible to tripping when fires rage under them.
Apart from Msunduzi and the eThekwini regions that are supplied by municipal cables, the remainder of KwaZulu-Natal is largely supplied by overhead Eskom cables.
These include semi urban areas just outside Pietermaritzburg, and the south coast near Umkomaas. Municipalities themselves are reliant on power supplied by major Eskom overhead lines.
Firefighters in Pietermaritzburg have already dealt with 165 fires in the first nine days of September alone.
Pietermaritzburg fire operations manager Essack Khan said August had also been a busy month for them, as they dealt with 220 veld fires which had claimed the lives of at least five people.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department reported that 34 people had died in fires.
Eskom customers who receive power directly from the national supplier can report faults at 0860 37566. Durban Electricity customers can contact 080 131 3001.