Power Restoration in Johannesburg Underway Following Underground Fire

An underground fire on the M1 highway in Johannesburg caused widespread power outages due to cable theft and vandalism. City Power has been cleared to begin repairs after ensuring safety standards, with alternative solutions being explored to restore electricity to affected areas.

Mazhar Abbas
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Power Restoration in Johannesburg Underway Following Underground Fire

Power Restoration in Johannesburg Underway Following Underground Fire

Johannesburg, South Africa - The restoration of power in Johannesburg is resuming after an underground fire along the M1 highway caused widespread outages earlier this week. City Power, the utility responsible for electricity in the city, has been given the green light to begin repairs on the M1 double-decker bridge now that safety standards have been met.

The fire, which occurred on Tuesday night near Smit Street and the double-decker section between the Braamfontein and Fordsburg substations, was attributed to cable theft and vandalism. A preliminary investigation found a hacksaw, screwdriver, and other tools at the scene, suggesting the involvement of criminals targeting the city's electrical infrastructure.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the vulnerability of critical infrastructure to criminal activity, which can have far-reaching consequences for the economy and daily life. Addressing the root causes of cable theft and vandalism is crucial to preventing similar incidents and ensuring the reliability of essential services.

When City Power employees and security personnel arrived to assess the damage on Wednesday, they encountered a group attempting to steal the burnt cables. A confrontation ensued, with security exchanging fire with individuals from a nearby informal settlement. Fortunately, no injuries were reported, and the stolen cables were recovered. A criminal complaint has been lodged with the police.

Before repairs could begin, the Johannesburg Roads Agency needed to assess the structural integrity of the tunnel to ensure the safety of the technicians. On Thursday, the emergency management services team granted City Power the go-ahead to access the site, pending tests to evaluate gas levels in the tunnels.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Magena stated, "As soon as those two safety aspects have been addressed, City Power will start clearing the rubble and assessing the extent of damage caused by the fire on electricity infrastructure. The outcome will determine the scope of work and the estimated time of completion of repairs."

In the meantime,City Power explores alternative solutionsto restore electricity to affected areas, including Braamfontein, parts of the CBD, Newtown, and Parktown. By back-feeding through the Fort and Bree substations, power has been restored to several key locations, such as the Metro Centre, Liberty Life, Braampark, Wits University, and other office buildings in Braamfontein.

Theunderground firehas highlighted the ongoing issue of cable theft and vandalism in Johannesburg, which has been a major contributor to power outages and infrastructure damage in recent years. As the city works to repair the damage and restore electricity to all affected areas, officials are also looking at ways to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future, including increased security measures and community engagement initiatives.

Key Takeaways

  • Underground fire on M1 highway causes widespread power outages in Johannesburg.
  • Cable theft and vandalism suspected as cause of fire, with tools found at scene.
  • City Power given green light to begin repairs after safety standards met.
  • Alternative solutions being explored to restore power to affected areas.
  • Incident highlights ongoing issue of cable theft and vandalism in Johannesburg.