Johannesburg - Bedfordview residents are holding their breath that their power line will not be vandalised again leaving them in the dark this Christmas.
The suburb recently experienced nearly five days of no power when cable thieves struck, leaving homes and businesses reeling.
DA councillor for Bedfordview, Jill Humphreys, said the ageing infrastructure coupled with cable theft resulted in the power outage.
She did, however, stress that there was willingness by Eskom to address the problem. She added that while the outage caused havoc for residents and businesses, the problem was dealt with quickly.
“I will defend our energy team to the hilt. The problem is also that there is just no money to fix the ageing infrastructure.
“We were initially told the outage would last seven days but because of the noise created by residents and business owners, the problem was solved earlier. We however remain vulnerable. It would be very bad for our area if this were to happen again,” she said.
Humphreys, who is part of a 1800-strong Telegram residents’ group, said while business owners and residents didn’t lament the loss of income, “people were just sounding sad, resilient, supportive, resigned”.
“People don't publicly admit to the collapse of their business. What I noticed though as an example – a hair dresser that has always advertised energetically, is selling up completely,” she said.
Marketing manager at Bedford Centre, Sharne Bodenstein said while they cannot disclose exact amount of losses suffered by businesses, the blackouts were devastating.
“The outages greatly affected both the centre and its tenants at a very volatile time as the tenants rely on the festive trade to help boost sales after a difficult two years.
“It was confirmed that one of the main Eskom cables at Bedfordview substation had been significantly damaged due to attempted cable theft, which resulted in a loss of power within the Bedfordview area,” she said.
Bodenstein added that even though the centre was running its generators, tenants in Bedford Square and the Bedford Office Tower were severely impacted as they were not connected to the generators.
“Many of our tenants do have their own generators and were able to trade as per normal, however, those tenants who do not have generators and are not within the footprint of the Bedford Square generator, were without power.”
Spokesperson for the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) Bernadette Zeiler said they have not conducted conclusive surveys with members to put a figure to the losses.
“We do conduct regular surveys with our stakeholders but at this stage we have not consulted with all parties concerned. It would be premature at this stage to put out figures about the losses suffered as a result of the blackouts and also the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Zeiler.
Meanwhile, Diepsloot residents in Zone 3 took to the streets yesterday to air their grievances about the prolonged power outages and have given Eskom an ultimatum to reconnect their electricity or face further protests.
Electricity in the area was disconnected due to illegal connections, meter bypassing and residents buying electricity from so-called ghost vendors.
The community, which has been without power for several weeks, resorted to barricading roads, with burning tyres and rubble, accusing the City of Johannesburg and Eskom of ignoring their pleas.
Newly elected Joburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse has equated the non-payment for electricity service to theft, but residents said that they simply could not afford the R6 000 reconnection fee.
There is also still no news on the plight of Soweto residents who were left without electricity as a result of outstanding payments.
Eskom did not reply to media queries from Saturday Star about the power outages in several areas across Joburg.