18 August 2017

Namibia: Anger Grows Over Constant Omusati Power Outages

RESIDENTS of Omusati region have expressed anger at northern electricity distributor Nored over regular power outages across the region, which they say are crippling businesses and hampering daily activities.

According to some residents, over the past three months there have been rolling power outages at Okakwa location near Outapi, Anamulenge at Okalongo and at Kasamane near the Namibian-Angolan border. "We do not know what is going on with Nored. For the past three months, we had electricity problems almost each day. Even as we speak now, there is no electricity," said businessman Kristof Sheehama yesterday.

Sheehama said since May there have been power blackouts, either for minutes or hours, every day and this has been damaging to business operations in the affected areas.

"Our goods are getting spoiled, and we lose a lot. Even our customers go to Outapi when our power goes," he said.

Sheehama added that he and other business people have also had electrical appliances damaged by electricity surges when power is restored unexpectedly.

He also wanted to know from Nored why electricity at Outapi, which is just a few kilometres away, is never disturbed.

Sheehama said Nored technicians and officials do not care about smaller settlements.

"They think we are nothing, that is why they do not care about finding out what is wrong with the power lines," he said.

Anamulenge businessman Simeon Nanyemba also expressed unhappiness at Nored's service.

"What I know is that there are instances where electricity can go when people are doing a repair or something, but this is something different and unacceptable. How can power go three times in a day each day?" He asked.

Nanyemba said that what pained them most was that despite them having reported the issue to Nored at Outapi, nothing was being done about it.

"They have not done anything. Last night the electricity also went around 22h00 and only came in the early morning hours," he said, adding that one of his refrigerators no longer worked after the latest power outage.

Nored's area manager for operations and maintenance in the north-west region, Shinana Shinana, yesterday admitted that the Omusati region had been experiencing regular electricity blackouts over recent months.

He, however, attributed the power failures to people who sabotaged the grid by throwing wires on the overhead power lines.

"Yes, Omusati is experiencing power problems, but it is because there are people throwing wires on the power lines and this is the main cause of power outages in the region," he said.

Shinana explained that one power line served Oshikuku, Outapi, Okalongo, Omweelo gwa Kasamane and other remote areas of Omusati, and if a fault occured at one of the locations, then all would be affected.

He said that Nored always ensured that if a fault occured on the grid, repair work was promptly done.

Shinana also denied that the constant power outages were a result of ageing infrastructure, such as transformers.

"Of course we have old transformers, but they are not the cause of the problems. We make sure that they are maintained and are in good condition," he stated.

Asked why at times it took hours for electricity to return, he explained that technicians sometimes have to drive along the power lines to see if they can spot what might have caused the power failure and that this was time-consuming.

"If it happened in the night then people have just to wait till the next day," he said.

Shinana called on the public, especially children, to not throw objects on the overhead power lines or shoot at insulators on electricity poles, which he said could also cause electricity failures if damaged.


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