For the third time this year, an electricity outage plunged most of the Grahamstown CBD into darkness last week.
And this time, even Settler's Hospital and local radio station Radio Grahamstown were affected, as electricity was switched off in certain areas during the weekend, including in the central business district, to allow technicians to do repairs.
According to a municipal official, a cable fault at one of Grahamstown's mini sub-stations, the Jacques mini sub-station, in Jacques Street, nearby St Andrew's Prep, resulted in the power outage for much of Thursday. "The breaker at Jacques sub-station tripped," said the municipality's technical officer, Mzomhle Radu.
"As a result, technicians had to switch off the King sub-station [which provides electricity to areas mostly near the CBD, including Somerset Heights, Oatlands Heights and the Settler's Hospital area] in order to locate the problem," said Radu.
To get their electricity back, affected areas had to be fed from the other two of Grahamstown's three main sub-stations and by 8pm, all those areas without electricity were back on again. But, on Saturday, all areas getting their electricity from the King main sub-station, except Settler's Hospital, were again plunged into darkness as technicians worked at the Jacques sub-station (under King main sub-station distribution area), where a faulty underground cable was found to be the source of the tripped circuit-breaker.
Things were back to normal by midday on Saturday. "Our main concern was Settler's Hospital, because hospitals can't operate without electricity." After a power outage in March, Johnson Siteto, the head of Makana Municipality's electricity department, told Grocott's Mail that a cable fault could occur for different reasons, such as a branch coming into contact with an electrical cable, or moisture seeping into underground cables, or cable malfunction because of ageing.