The City of Cape Town’s utility services directorate plans to invest R65.8 million in street lighting projects by the end of June 2017, but says vandalism, theft, and damage to infrastructure as a result of motor vehicle accidents remain problems.
“The funds have been allocated for expansion of the street lighting network, but also replacement of old sodium high-intensity discharge (HID) lights with more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly light-emitting diode (LED) lights,” mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said on Sunday.
The LED replacement project started as a pilot project last year and would be systematically introduced when infrastructure replacement or repairs were required. This process was expected to take a number of years to complete.
In terms of new projects, the utility services directorate had been installing street lighting in Freedom Park, Sheffield Road, and sections of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay that were damaged by fire, among others.
“Street lights are integral to creating safer communities, which is why we are working very hard to increase our footprint and improve the technology involved for the benefit of residents,” Sonnenberg said.
In spite of the city’s best efforts to have the public lighting infrastructure operating optimally, vandalism, theft, and damage to infrastructure as a result of motor vehicle accidents remain problems. In one of the most recent incidents, thieves repeatedly stole infrastructure, resulting in a section of Jakes Gerwel Drive in Mitchells Plain being without street lights for several months.
The electricity services department also had to contend with illegal electricity connections to street lights in various parts of the city, which resulted in circuit breakers tripping due to overloading or the electricity reticulation infrastructure deteriorating at an accelerated rate,
These illegal connections were most often the result of residents settling on land that could not legally be electrified, or within parts of the city that fell under Eskom’s administration. Apart from one or two small pockets, the city had electrified all settlements that could legally be electrified, within its jurisdiction, Sonnenberg said.
Vandalism, theft, and damage of electricity infrastructure cost the electricity services department just under R17 million in the 2015/16 financial year.
“Vandalism of street lighting equipment is a major issue and diverts significant resources and funding that could otherwise be used for system growth and improvements. One of the common questions we’re asked is why street lights are left burning during the day.
“This is done to ward off cable thieves and the associated cost is much lower than replacing stolen cables. Damage to equipment due to motor vehicle accidents is another issue that needs to be attended to on a daily basis, so while we try our best, it is not always smooth sailing,” Sonnenberg said.
The city called on residents to report any faulty street lights as soon as they noticed the problem. They could call the city’s call centre on 0860-103-089, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or SMS details to 31220.
– African News Agency (ANA)