May 17, 2020

Kids playing with kites under power lines causing electricity outages in PE

Kids playing with kites under power lines causing electricity outages in PE

By Sisonke Mlamla 1h ago

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Cape Town – Flying kites might be a leisure activity for many, but it has become a nightmare for the power utility, with electricity tripping this past week in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality allegedly caused by kites that got entangled with transmission wires.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the recent power outages which occurred in Port Elizabeth were “mainly caused by kite activities along the servitudes in which the power lines run” .

Over the past week, Port Elizabeth communities in Bethelsdorp, Salt Lake, Hillside, Cleary Park, Arcadia, West End and Salsoneville experienced power outages.

Mniki said those power lines also transport electricity to the Ditchling, Chatty, Greenbushes, Rowallan Park, Lorraine, Summerstrand, Arlington, Walmer, Malabar, Gelvandale areas.

He said the Electricity and Energy Directorate staff remove kite tails from the power lines on a daily basis.

“Children play under the power lines with kites and often aim to land (bok) the kites on the lines to cause a flash,” Mniki said.

He said, in certain instances, they have competitions where the winner is the competitor which can cause the biggest flash (blue spark) on the power lines.

“These kites on the power lines lead to extended power outages (a few hours to a few days), such as those on Friday and Saturday evening, and also cause power dips,” Mniki said. 

He said a power dip – the dimming of lights or loss of electricity for a few seconds – which is caused by kite activities, “for instance in Bloemendal, could cause a power dip throughout the power network, meaning all the customers in the metro might see the dimming of the lights and is not good for the factories and industries using sensitive electronic equipment”.

“Unnecessary power interruptions such as dips caused by kites can damage TVs, fridges, microwave ovens,” he said.

Mniki said the municipality would not be held liable or responsible for replacing any appliances damaged due to electricity outages caused by kites.

The kite tail normally comprises a piece of string and if it is long enough, it can touch two adjacent conductors or lines, causing a flash and consequently extended power outages.  

Mniki warned kite fliers and said th flying of kites in the vicinity of high-voltage power lines could lead to electrocution.

“The municipality will not be held liable or responsible should any person suffer injury or death due to kite activity under power lines,” he said.

Mniki said the directorate previously embarked on an education drive, educating schools and distributing pamphlets explaining the dangers and consequences of kite activities along power line and servitudes.

He said due to the lockdown, the schools are obviously closed, “we cannot approach them and the children are at home”. 

Mniki urged parents and custodians to inform children about the dangers of flying kites close to power lines and to encourage them to educate their friends as well.

Cape Argus

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