Load-shedding stranded hundreds of cableway visitors on Table Mountain

Load-shedding left visitors temporarily stranded on Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Load-shedding left visitors temporarily stranded on Table Mountain in Cape Town. 
Image: Esa Alexander

There was no escaping stage 6 load-shedding for tourists and visitors on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town. 

Hundreds of people were left stranded there for nearly three hours on Monday after Eskom escalated load-shedding to stage 6 across the country.   

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company MD Wahida Parker confirmed that around 500 people were on top of the mountain when a backup generator failed to operate.

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The cableway has a backup hydraulic drive and electricity generators at both the upper and lower cable stations to ensure the cable cars are not at risk during load-shedding. 

“Power surges are believed to have caused the failure of our generator. It failed to kick in because of the amount of times it switched on and off, and eventually it took a toll," said Parker.

She said a decision had since been taken to close the cableway - a major tourist attraction for the city - for a day. 

“We’re closed for today as we repair the generator. We have also embarked on discussions with the city to consider an exception to have less load-shedding,” she said on Tuesday. 

The company said it would be "impossible" to operate the cableway if stage 6 load-shedding continued. Parker said it meant having four episodes of power cuts, which translated to more than five hours without electricity. 

“If the load-shedding continues this way, it will be impossible for us to give our visitors,  who are mostly foreign, the best possible experience of  Table Mountain,” she said. 

The stranded visitors were all eventually safely bought down the mountain. Parker said those who were at the bottom waiting to go up were offered free tickets for another  day. 

“Our technical team is monitoring the impact of the sudden implementation of stage 6 load-shedding to best accommodate our visitors in a safe and responsible manner,” said Parker. 

A message on the company's website says: “We would like to reassure visitors that we have sufficient backup systems in place while load-shedding is under way. Visitors travelling by cable car will not be in any danger during a power outage.” 

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