Rundu — Thousands of Rundu residents were left without power for eight hours on Saturday after a local businessman damaged an underground electrical cable.
The businessman, Jaco Van Dyk, was attempting to open up a blocked storm water canal near his business premises. However, while digging they damaged part of the 800 metres underground cable that supplies electricity to the entire town of 80 000 residents. The Northern Regional Electricity Distribution company (Nored) and the Rundu Town Council are now livid, while other businesspeople in the town were also upset since the absence of electricity made trading nigh impossible on Saturday.
Nored's Kavango regional foreman, Mubita Chizabulyo, informed New Era that van Dyk will be presented with a fine and he will be compelled to settle the labour and material costs involved in repairing the damage. Nored electricians have already repaired the damaged cable. An apologetic Van Dyk says the damage was a genuine mistake on his part. "It was an honest mistake, all I wanted to do was to clear the standing water around the area because the water canal was filled with debris due to the sand at the exit point. Standing water can be hazardous to the community because it will attract mosquitoes," said van Dyk who trades in petroleum products, transportation, retail and other business interests in the region. The financial implications of the eight-hour power outage in the town could not immediately be established, but grocery stores without backup generators were the hardest hit. Many of them had to write off perishable goods. An exasperated chairman of the Rundu Town Council's management committee, Johannes Murenga, urged members of the public to notify the town council if they plan to to do any work on municipal land. "I can confirm that the town council did not permit the digging. People must learn to notify the authorities to avoid incidents like the one of today. If [van Dyk] saw that the water canal was blocked, the right thing to do would have been to inform us so that we could send a team to take care of the situation," said Murenga.
In his defence van Dyk says he was merely lending a helping hand as previous efforts to get the town council to unblock the storm water canal proved futile and he did all the digging at his own expense. "Let them go ahead and fine me, because I already informed them that it was a mistake. There is not even a sign of any markers to warn the public and the cabling was not deep enough under the ground," complained Van Dyk.