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S. Africa Electric Company Works to Reduce Widespread Power Outages


In South Africa, electrical power officials say they are working to reduce power outages one day after widespread blackouts disrupted traffic and businesses across the country. VOA Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Johannesburg.

Officials of South Africa's state-owned electrical power company, Eskom, say lower demand for electricity has reduced the need for power cuts such as those that paralyzed many parts of the country on Thursday.

Company spokesman Fani Zulu says Eskom staff hope to return more power generating units to operation next week.

"We expect that by Monday several of the units that were shut down on an unplanned basis would have been returned to service and we will start seeing some degree of normality being introduced from Monday going forward," he said.

Zulu urged consumers to continue to conserve electricity by turning off air conditioners and non-essential appliances.

Many parts of South Africa Thursday experienced power blackouts lasting several hours long after a turbine at a nuclear power plant near Capetown shut down. Officials said there was no danger but an investigation has been launched.

Several coal-fired units were also shut down at the time for maintenance. The outage came amid high demand for electricity due to hot weather during the country's summer season.

Officials said as a result demand for electricity exceeded capacity by 2,000 megawatts.

Traffic was disrupted in many urban areas and businessmen said they lost millions of dollars due to lost production.

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