10 August 2007
Cape Town aims to save energy by fitting energy-efficient light bulbs in over 180 000 streetlights across the metropolitan municipality over the next two years, representing a 12% saving in energy used.
The city will replace all the 80-watt mercury vapour bulbs currently used in street lighting with 70-watt high-pressure sodium bulbs.
“This is part of the city’s concerted efforts to conserve power, whilst at the same time dealing with the scourge of cable theft and vandalism,” said Cape Town’s manager of public lighting, Charles Kadalie.
Kadalie said the widespread theft of electricity cables has been forced the municipality to keep certain areas of streetlights burning during the day to deter cable theft.
“Under normal circumstances, there would be no justification for wasting power and we should all be diligently conserving this precious commodity. Unfortunately, the city is suffering from an unprecedented onslaught from cable thieves,” he said.
He said that cables thieves rarely risked electrocution and possible death by hacking into live wires.
Kadalie said the cost of “energising” a 350-meter stretch of ten 70-watt streetlights amounts to about R3.50 per day, while the cost of replacing stolen cable and vandalised equipment amounts to nearly R35 000 per incident.
“This does not even take into consideration the inconvenience caused to residents, nor the additional costs of welding down access covers and casting cables in concrete to secure our equipment.”
As an alternative to deter vandalism in Matroosfontein, the municipality has entered into a partnership with Eskom to install lighting on six 40-meter-high masts the value of R1-million.
In suburbs that are relatively unaffected by cable theft, the city is able to use day night switches activated by photo sensors to automatically switch off in daylight.
Power disruptions in these areas are usually caused by a defective sensor, lamp failure or contact between tree branches and transmission lines.
“However in ‘hot spots’ such as Bonteheuwel, Hanover Park, Gugulethu, Pinelands, Bishops Court, Atlantis, the M5, Mitchells Plain and Vanguard Drive, disruptions are invariably caused by cable theft,” Kadalie said.
“Cable theft is draining the resources of the city’s electricity department and hampering our efficiency in attending to other public electricity complaints.”
The city has a dedicated cable theft task team that works around the clock to apprehend perpetrators, and Kadalie has urged residents to report any suspicious activity around power lines and substations on 0800 32 31 30.