Underground highway fire damage to cost Joburg city R23m

The City of Joburg’s power utility, City Power, says it is going to cost R23-million to replace burned underground cables on the M1 highway and install new interconnector cables between Fort and Braamfontein substations. This comes after the recent damage that the underground fire caused.

According to City Power Group executive for service delivery centres, Charles Tlouane, the overall work to fix the electrical damage on the M1 highway will cost R23-million.

Not all areas are restored

“This is overall work from the bridge, including what we are trying to do through our interconnector cables. The interconnector cables we are laying them as an immediate intervention to resolve the power outages. Not all customers (residents) are restored. We still have customers (residents) who are off,” said Tlouane. 


Tlouane was speaking on Wednesday during a technical media briefing led by City of Joburg municipal manager Floyd Brink.

The purpose of the briefing was to provide progress on the city’s efforts to deal with the M1 highway underground fire. It took place at the Johannesburg Roads Agency offices in the Joburg CBD.

300m of copper cable was cut and stolen, causing the fire

Last Wednesday, an underground fire occurred on the M1 north highway near Smit Street and the double-decker section. This occurred between Braamfontein substation and Fordsburg substation after acts of cable theft and vandalism. City Power technicians discovered this week that 300m of copper cable had been cut and stolen. This occurred in the Johannesburg tunnels, where the blaze started.

The underground fire led to power outages in Parktown, Newtown, Braamfontein, Joburg CBD and surrounding areas. These areas have been without power since last week.

Tlouane said City Power is pursuing two approaches to address the power outage.

He said the first approach is to replace the burned cables (work in progress). It also involves installing new interconnector cables between Fort and Braamfontein Substations (an immediate solution).


Most areas in town restored by Wednesday

Tlouane said the work of rerouting interconnector cables from the Fort substation to the Braamfontein substation will take more than eight days.

He said affected residents might be reconnected by Wednesday night using City Power’s temporary supply solution of interconnector cables. However, power supply will be on a rotational basis to avoid overloading the network.

Earlier on Wednesday, City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena gave an update on power restoration. He said power was restored to Braamfontein, Braampark, Liberty Life and Thuso House. Power at Metro Centre and other buildings was restored through back-feeding efforts. 

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