By Mkhululi Ncube
Suburbs in Bulawayo that have not had electricity since Monday following a major fault at Richmond Substation are likely to be in darkness until the weekend.
Some of the suburbs which have been without power since Monday include Entumbane, Cowdray Park and Matshobane, parts of Mahatshula North, Woodville and Norwood.
The State House in Bulawayo, Mpilo Central Hospital and the United College of Education and some city centre areas which were affected have been diverted to another feed and now have electricity.
Residents queued to buy LP gas for cooking at various selling points as there appeared to be no end to the blackout.
Since the onset of the rainy season, power cuts have increased throughout the city which has raised the ire of residents who are going for hours without electricity.
Residents are in a dilemma as they desperately need rains to beat the crippling water crisis being experienced in the city but on the other hand they know once clouds gather, chances of power outages increase.
In an interview yesterday, Zesa southern region manager Engineer Lovemore Chinaka said the power outages in the city were as a result of a fault at the Richmond Substation and a cable fault caused by the rains.
He said the fire brigade had to be called to put out a fire at the station on Monday.
Eng Chinaka said the power utility was working on bringing Entumbane suburb online through an alternative which has not been functional for some time at Emakhandeni Substation. He said the suburb might receive power today or tomorrow.
“With the other suburbs we have no option but to replace the burnt equipment before we switch them on again. We have found some old replacement equipment that we intend to use and with a bit of luck we should have everyone else back by Saturday. We are working on bringing it in as early as possible, but Saturday is a conservative date,” he said.
He said suburbs like Matshobane that had a blackout on Wednesday are experiencing some faults which are minor compared to the suburbs which are in the fourth day of darkness.
Eng Chinaka said in the city centre, the blackout was a result of water seeping into cables.
He said the issue had been rectified because the city centre has an alternative feed.
He said during the start of the rainy season, the electricty delivery system experiences problems as water seeps into structures.
“The design of the network is such that if it senses a fault, especially a lightning strike, it must temporarily switch off so that the lightning clears before it restores. If it does not do that, we will have lightning on top of the electrical power which might actually cause fire. It might look like there is a weakness but it’s a design,” he said. The Chronicle.