City Power contractor shuffle leaves Joburg residents in the dark for days

Ward councillors say issue around contractors affects response time

Councillors claim City Power's response time to attending to outages is poor, mainly because of its new policy on the use of contractors. Stock photo.
Councillors claim City Power's response time to attending to outages is poor, mainly because of its new policy on the use of contractors. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/loganban

Some residents in Joburg have been without electricity for more than two days, while others have been in the dark for at least six days and it's not due to load-shedding. 

Ward councillors in the city are inundated with calls from residents who have been without electricity for days, even after logging calls with City Power.

Nicole van Dyk, a ward councillor for Linden, said she has a number of households in her ward that have been without electricity for about six days. She said the poor response by City Power could be due to a new system the power entity was introducing.

According to the councillor, City Power previously relied heavily on contractors to deal with power outages in the city, but that is no longer the case. She said the new GM for City Power, Sipho Gamede, had halted the use of contractors attending to logged calls. She said though this was a good move, it could have been done in a better way.

“The problem now is that City Power doesn’t have enough staff at their depots to attend to all these faults reported in the city,” she explained.

City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the entity had not cancelled the contractors but changed their operating model to stop issues caused by contractors when they receive calls directly from dispatch. He said the problems customers kept complaining about include:

  • repeat calls due to poor workmanship by contractors;
  • calls that are closed without being attended to; and
  • dispatched material not being accounted for.

“We decided that from now on contractors will be additional resources for the depots and they will be controlled by the depots to improve accountability at the local level,” he said.

Mangena also admitted that they were experiencing a surge in calls but highlighted that this was due to adverse weather conditions and load-shedding.

“Load-shedding is putting too much strain on our resources, including technicians to respond to the physical switching while responding to outage calls.”

He said they were beefing up resources and depots were engaging the services of contractors to augment their resources and deal with the challenges.

The total number of calls that were logged with City Power on Thursday morning.
The total number of calls that were logged with City Power on Thursday morning.
Image: Supplied

City Power had more than 4,400 open calls of outages reported on Thursday morning, with 1,291 reported at the Hursthill depot and 948 of those calls not yet allocated. In Roodepoort, there were 692 calls logged and 337 of them not allocated, while Lenasia had 1,133 open calls and 891 were not allocated. Randburg had 172 logged calls and 115 of them were not allocated.

Mangena said the backlog at Lenasia depot was caused by a protest in the area last week. He said technicians could not access the depot which led to a backlog.

In Roodepoort, he said calls were mostly from Tshepisong, where there was a trip due to overloading. He said along with some identified areas across the city, Tshepisong was  earmarked for load rotation to deal with overloading of the system.

Mangena said City Power had already implemented load rotation in Vlakfontein, Lawley, Rabie Ridge, Mayibuye and parts of Alexandra across the Jukskei River.

Mangena said overloading was caused by illegal connections and the rapid increase in backyard rooms.

On the turnaround time to respond to logged calls, Mangena said the entity had agreed on eight hours as the time to respond to queries before they were escalated. He said the four hours they previously agreed on was not feasible, considering the travelling technicians  have to do, traffic, fault finding and the collection of material.

Other ward councillors took to social media to air their frustrations about the poor response time by City Power:

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