WITH all that is threatening to collapse around the energy crisis, there is something in this city worth giving a huge bouquet to: the municipal electricity department – and specifically everyone connected to the Munelek fault report centre.
A week or so ago, driving along in the dark just before 8pm, I noticed a glowing point on some overhead power lines right in front of a substation serving the Kragga Kamma/Theescombe area. I contacted the call centre in Harrower Road to report this.
Shortly afterwards I received a call back from the operator wanting to check exactly where this was and what I had noticed. Not too long afterwards I received a call from the shift supervisor wanting to verify the information.
She then immediately dispatched a crew – who knew exactly where the location was, road names and all — to check what was happening. About 15 minutes later, I received another call from the supervisor.
First it was to say that the crew were already at the place I had indicated and briefly to explain what the problem was. However, was I blown away when she told me the crew had asked her to contact and thank the caller, because the arcing that was causing the line to glow amounted to an emergency situation, especially in close proximity to the substation. Well, believe that!
I know someone who works at the call centre and have gained quite a bit of insight into the work that the call operators and crews are involved in 24/7, 365 days a year. I can only say that I have the greatest appreciation for what the crews face in keeping our electricity supply in working order as far as is humanly possible for them.
Let’s acknowledge that these crews literally put their lives on the line to keep our power supply going. These guys are on call whatever the weather and the time of day, including holidays.
Especially in the outlying areas, where there are no street lights, they attend to problems in the dark, frequently during storms and gale-force winds — usually having first to find where or what the fault actually is and then fix it. As we all know, electricity and water are a fatal combination – and technicians from this department from time to time do lose their lives in the line of duty.
Moreover, the working relationship between the call centre staff itself and crews is something to see. So when a tragedy like this occurs, it affects everyone in this working family and the technicians’ families are also only too aware of the risks their loved ones face.
Even between shifts, staff are updated about important developments, so they know what the situation around the city is power-wise. This is dedication.
So next time you see a team of these guys out in your area, a friendly wave of acknowledgement or a word of thanks will be more than appreciated.
If there is one part of our municipal service that does itself proud, it is this section of the electricity department. If only the rest of the service could say the same, our city could be a great example of efficient local management.
With all the added complications thanks to Eskom, this department deserves recognition for the ongoing great – but often thankless — job it is doing to keep Madiba Bay going as far as possible. I hope someone in charge of performance appraisal takes note.
-Trix, Madiba Bay, Port Elizabeth