Chief Albert Luthuli Ext 6-
Chief Albert Luthuli Ext 6
Chief Albert Luthuli Ext 6 is pioneering the future of EPWP electrification in urban townships and setting the Ekurhuleni standard. Pic credit: GIBB

South African-based consulting and engineering firm GIBB has completed a ZAR33 million ($3 million) rural electrification contract involving 1,000 homes by installing street lights in the East Rand township of Chief Albert Luthuli in Gauteng.

In a company statement last week, GIBB highlighted its scope of involvement in the electrification project including the design and project management, construction monitoring and commission.

The engineering company also undertook bulk electrical works from a nearby substation into Chief Albert Luthuli, the electrification network and street lighting.

Amanda Hadebe, electrical engineer, project manager and technical leader from GIBB’s Power and Energy sector, said: “Our design approach has evolved into what we term a hybrid system where both underground and overhead construction is specified; underground is generally medium-voltage cabling and house connections, while overhead bundled conductors are utilised for local distribution.

“A completely underground design is perhaps the most desirable from an aesthetic and security perspective but also the most expensive. Yet we have to work within the budget guidelines of the EPWP for electrification. The Chief Albert Luthuli hybrid system provides a cheaper, neat, safe and compact solution. It allows for the use of labour-intensive techniques while contributing to skills development creating jobs for members of the local community,” Hadebe continued.

Street lighting electrification

Chief Albert Luthuli Ext 6
Chief Albert Luthuli Ext 6 – a compact Hybrid Electrical LV network allows for containment of all cables away from theft

GIBB described a few key innovative designs that were implemented at Luthuli including: The specification of spiral hollow concrete poles that support the aerial conductors and street lighting, while keeping all service cables out of sight. The design utilised strain poles thereby eliminating stay cables which often interfere with access to people’s yards.

The placement of poles was done intentionally to accommodate potential future conversion from high pressure sodium lamps (HPS) to low energy LED street lighting. A combination of copper and aluminium cabling with the use of copper cables restricted to specific points, curbing cable and copper theft.

Hadebe commented: “All in all, it was a very successful project due to the commitment, teamwork and successful application of knowledge and expertise. GIBB has played a key role to empowering communities. Many previously-unemployed individuals now possess certificates of competence, which will allow them to gain future employment on similar projects. With provision of electricity, the community is now in a position to start growing local business and economic activity.”

Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM)

In addition to the Luthuli project, GIBB provided design and management assistance to the Gauteng Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (EMM) with the implementation of electrification projects under the Department of Public Works’ Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP).

“Vast experience, innovative input and close cooperation with EMM technical staff has resulted in a workable formula that is applicable to current and future township electrification contracts,” Hadebe concluded.