The City of Cape Town’s Utility Services Directorate will spend R65,8 million on street lighting projects by the end of June 2017.
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.
The LED replacement project started as a pilot project last year and will be systematically introduced when infrastructure replacement or repairs are required. This process is expected to take a number of years to complete.
In terms of new projects, the Utility Services Directorate has 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,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Utility Services, Ernest Sonnenberg.
In spite of the city’s efforts to have the public lighting infrastructure operating optimally, vandalism, theft and damage to infrastructure resulted in a section of Jakes Gerwel Drive in Mitchells Plain being without street lights for several months.
The Electricity Services Department also has to contend with illegal electricity connections to street lights in various parts of the city, which results in the circuit breakers tripping due to overloading or the electricity reticulation infrastructure deteriorating at an accelerated rate. These illegal connections are most often the result of residents settling on land that cannot legally be electrified, or within parts of the city that fall under Eskom’s administration. Apart from one or two small pockets, the city has electrified all settlements that can legally be electrified, within its jurisdiction.
“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,” concluded Sonnenberg.