it's 3:25am at the moment. there have been no updates here for the reasons suggested in the title, and this post will very much do what it says on the box. i'm posting this to rant and complain but also to try and give some advice if people end up stuck in the same predicament as us. if you don't like it, don't read.
our electricity went off at 11:24am on Saturday morning, coming back on at aroun 1:15am this Monday. i've had not much sleep at all the last two days, and with the power back on i found myself unable to sleep, my brain rushing around thinking of all the things that needed doing. with the rest of the house sound asleep i can't tackle clothes washing, but things are being charged, boiled and washed as far as i can do them.
why was the power off and did we know when it would be back on? no one is saying and no idea. here comes the depressing tale, broken down into rather fetching headings.
No Communication Possible
when the power first went off, we didn't bother phoning the "Joburg Connect" line. why not? no matter where you are in the world reading this, i would imagine you have heard of the numerous and frequently violent "service delivery" protest actions and strikes in South Africa. i can understand both the frequency of them and why people are so desperate that the protests get destructive and violent whilst in no way approving of or endorsing the latter. the complete lack of service and support the fine people of this country suffer is shocking, and it is little wonder so many simply leave.
a big clue as to how ineffective anything to do with Johannesburg services are is right their in the logo they proudly show off. have a look.
yes, ignore the "a world class African city" bullshit (and be warned this post will contain strong language) and look at the top - "To be a world-class electricity distributer". what morons. a distributer is part of a car engine. the word they were looking for was distributor.
anyway, after more than two hours (the standard blackout time for "loadshedding" schedules that they claim not to be doing any more, and if you believe that i have some magic beans to sell you) we called and found that we need not have bothered. The standard numbers, 011 375 5555 and 0860 562 874, just went to some fucking awful hold music. trying to conserve battery power, we gave up on hold after 30 minutes on 2 instances.
trying another department, for the hell of it, revealed that the City Power "communication network" had been down since Friday afternoon. no other department had any information about electricity. when i asked what the Plan B was for emergencies, i was informed that there was not one. brilliant.
eventually, and with great reluctance, they gave me an apparently "secrect" number to get hold of City Power on, 011 490 7000. they need not have bothered, as no one answered this phone.
City Power Employ Morons
on Sunday morning, with no further information and certainly no power, i decided to take a drive around to see if i could spot anyone actually doing anything about the power. to my surprise and delight i found one or two City Power vehicles around, with their staff digging holes. i decided to stop and ask them what the story was. my surprise and delight soon turned to further frustration.
the questions "what's the problem" and "when do you think the power might be on" were answered with the words "don't know". fantastic. so why are you digging holes and messing about with high voltage cables, then?
i didn't bother to converse further or get angry with them as both were clearly pointless. i did, however, notice later on a whole range of people seeking them out and doing just that. i drove on, but i really don't blame them.
Traditional Media Is Useless
At the 20 or so hour mark it was clear that there was a major issue with the power. i was surprised, then, to discover that none of radio stations in the area were making any mention of it at all. this was particularly surprising in regards of the self-anointed "number one radio station" www.702.co.za. if you wonder how this station keeps getting declared "MTN Radio Station Of The Year", just search out the judging panel and seek out details of either their current or previous employment.
it is truly sad to have seen this radio station fall from a vital and important source of news, information and discussion to being a self-serving, cronyist vehicle to promote itself. once a vital cog in the early days of democracy in this country, now they cannot even run a quiz show properly, having in the last week described the Caribbean as an ocean and claiming that Australia is the only country in the continent of Australia.
that said, i had hoped that it was the case that they still had some lingering interest in actual stories that affected the community they claim to serve. it was a blind hope, really, as in the last few years their attention has turned from actual help to the lazy, mostly free advertising farce that is 'Lead SA'. this is an initiative that makes a lot of noise (making sure you know the station is behind it) but doesn't actually do anything. oh sure, they go on and on about how bad Rhino poaching is, which it is, but then just talk about it. they also enagaged in a campaign to have everyone drive with their lights on all the time, telling everyone - despite no research - that this would cut down on road accidents. their latest initative, to play a beep every four minutes (except when adverts are on) to remind everyone how bad rape is, is ineffective to the point of offensive and doesn't actually do anything.
needless to say, alerting them to the fact that (a) thousands of families had no electricity for a very long period and (b) no one had any information, what with City Power being "offline" was of no apparent interest to them at all, as it did not feature on the news or in any editorial comment. obviously it was too difficult for them to investigate this matter, but never mind - i am sure they will put themselves forward for more awards for their sterling work in showing how to bribe vehicle inspectors and indeed, most memorably, sending an overweight cross-eyed journalist off to show how dangerous it is to use a phone whilst driving. oh, and of course, writing a letter of complaint "on behalf of all South Africans" when a members-only club or organization has a members-only meeting and have the audacity and nerve to refuse entry to 702 on the basis that it is a members only, private function rather than a public thing.
it's always interesting to listen to them, by the way, and hear how many adverts they carry for things like Eskom and City Power. i am sure that this does not in any way affect their editorial content. just like, when the SA Post Office was advertising heavily on the station, it in no way influenced their editorial view that "people were stealing parcels that they had not received" rather than the Post Office staff doing this around the time amazon.com blacklisted South Africa as a delivery destination due to theft in the postal system.
Modern Media Is Useless
with all conventional means of finding out when the electricity would return, i turned to using the few moments of power left in a netbook to try and find something out. a google search provided no information, not least of all because the City Power website, presumably as an integral part of their "communication network", was down. not that the site tells you anything of use like where power is off and when it will be on.
considering that this 'twitter' business was so wonderful in things like the Egyptian uprisings i figured it would also have some info on what was going on. twitter, alas, is only as good a tool as the people who use it.
i am pretty sure you can guess this part. nothing at all on the, and i hope this is the right terminology, "twitter feed" from Eskom or City Power, and of course no response to any message i sent. as a Plan B twitter would have been a good idea, but as you are no doubt aware by now City Power simply do not have good ideas.
off to the local news web things, then. EWN, the "independent" news source for 702, owned by someone and indeed has all its news bulletins sponsored, was fucking useless. under the local news there was something about some American and a drug test, and no word on the power. i went off to News24, then, who seem at least to be less inclined to lean towards sponsors, do usually carry actual local news and allow users to post stories.
a fail, alas. no news at all on the power outage, and an article i wrote, explaining that the power had been out for quite some time and that no one could contact anyone, was apparently declined for putting on their site. thanks for that.
as for the daddy of modern technology, facebook, well i am greatly appreciative of the fact that some friends tried to offer support and had spotted City Power in my area. it is not really a channel or conduit for news, though, so in the end i just used it, with the last of the power in the netbook, to fire off some venemous rants about our predicament and what i thought of those who had left us very much in the dark.
this country is a wonderful place, and full of many fantastic people. there can be little wonder that so many, though, and so many of all colours, eventually say "fuck this" and leave. it's all well and good saying that the nation is in a "building phase", but that doesn't quite cover why perfectly good infrastructre has been allowed to go to ruin, and it certainly doesn't cover a complete lack of communcation in a time where more channels of communication are open than anyone could have possibly imagined a mere 20 years ago.
when there's a power blackout in less well known areas of America it for some reason becomes worldwide news. here, 38 hours of no power does not even register on the locally based news. alarm bells should be ringing, especially in the realms of those with the audacity and nerve to suggest they "lead SA", but the bells are silent.
one often hears of the apparent "meddling" and the concept of a "nanny state" in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and certain parts of Europe. i am certain that if what had happened to our area had happened in a subburb in any of those countries one would certainly hear news coverage, be able to contact someone and be kept informed of what was going on and when they expected things to go back to normal. such things, in fact, would be taken as a given. i am sure anyone reading this from the rest of the world will be baffled at just how poor service and information is here.
the only thing i can be certain of from this whole sorry, frustrating incident is that it will happen again, either to us or another area, and all of the above will be exactly the same again. why those that clearly care the least for this country are allowed to control and run it is beyond me, but i am pretty sure when the lack of care is asked of them the answer will not be pleasant.
thanks for reading, and if you have complaints you were warned that this was a rant!
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!