Vandalism costs city thousands

Substation damage, theft a pricey headache

Vandalism and theft at electricity substations have cost the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality more than R750,000 in damages.
There were 65 incidents of damage to the city’s substations between July and October, according to a report by former electricity and energy acting executive director Bernhardt Lamour.
This, he wrote, was largely due to slack security at some of the sites.
It cost the municipality a total of R751,182 over that period in 2018.
Some of the affected substations are in North End, Walmer, Humerail, Central and Struanway as well as at the Wolfson Stadium and Njoli (Kwazakhele), which led to widespread power outages in large parts of the city.
Sister newspaper The Herald has previously reported on how Bay substations were at the mercy of vandals and criminals as a result of little or no security.
The situation is further exacerbated by the lack of CCTV cameras at some of the sites.
In the report to the infrastructure, engineering and energy committee, Lamour wrote there were no signs of forced entry at some of the sites where incidents of theft occurred.
“Situations are occurring whereby alleged thieves and vandals are gaining access to substations throughout [the metro] with the intent of forcibly and illegally removing any exposed copper earthing and associated cabling,” Lamour wrote.
“Forcible entry to these substations is in most cases gained [but] there are instances where there is no forced entry. We suspect that the thieves and vandals may have keys.”
A neutral conductor was stolen from one of the substations, which resulted in a large number of residents left without electricity.
Following a visit to the Ekurhuleni metro, Lamour has asked that the city consider appointing a contractor to investigate syndicates operating within the metro.
Lamour said Ekurhuleni had reduced its vandalism and theft rate by 70%.
Current acting executive director Luyolo Magalela said: “We really have a challenge with people breaking into our substations and stealing copper cables. This report is for councillors to consider the possibility of getting a contractor to investigate possible syndicates that are operating in Nelson Mandela Bay.”
Portfolio chair Andile Lungisa said vandalism and theft would be resolved as soon as people were relocated to serviced sites.
“If we move all the people who are living in shacks to serviced sites, we will solve this problem because people are stealing electricity from our substations and this is proving to be very expensive for the municipality,” Lungisa said.
He said they would consult with the department of safety and security so that some of the insourced security staff safeguard the substations.
But DA councillor Masixole Zinto said he was concerned that deploying security staff to the sites would put them at risk.
“We can’t put a human being in front of a syndicate. These people vandalise. We need to get an expert to help us with this,” Zinto said.
EFF councillor Lukhanyo Mrara said the city should consider insourcing more security staff if there was a shortage.
“I don’t agree with the proposal to use a contractor that will investigate this syndicate.
“We need a plan to protect our infrastructure and prevent this theft. If we are short-staffed perhaps we should consider insourcing more people because the people are there,” Mrara said...

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