Res students were among the worst affected on campus by last week’s load shedding, since faulty generators caused them to experience power outages for longer than other areas.
“Some of the East and West campus generators have been faulty from time to time,” according to Rob Sharman, director of Campus Housing & Residence Life.
Residences ready for blackouts
With no lights in their rooms, some Jubilee Hall and Trinity House residents made the trek to West campus which has its own main generator so they could study, while others moved their desks and laptops into the corridors, where backup generators provided light.
Not all residences experienced power cuts. According to Sharman, most of the Parktown residences have not had night-time outages as these were only scheduled “on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6am-12pm, if necessary”.
He explains that residences are not served by one main generator. “The main campus residences are, however, connected to the generator house alongside the Wits Theatre. In addition, Girton, Medhurst, Reith and Wits Junction all have huge permanent generator capacity and Noswal Hall’s lights are all on a new generator.”[pullquote]“They don’t even have those lamps that most educational institutions have in case of no power. In fact, when there was no power people were congregating outside to share light and have company since there is practically nothing you can do when the power is out”[/pullquote]
The university is also looking at installing generators at Esselen and Braamfontein. Sharman, however, rejected claims of students having to eat dinner off campus due to power outages during dinner time.
All the dining halls have generators and use gas to cook their meals. He said the only problems have been with access to the meal booking system, so students have had to produce their student cards and sign lists to access meals.
Safety, a concern for students
A number of students complained to Wits Vuvuzela of not feeling safe when walking from one part of campus to the other in the dark. However, Campus Control director Rob Kemp said there are a number of security measures in place, advertised on campus and on the university website. “We have 24 hour patrol, on foot and in vehicles, as well as a dog section and during power outages all personnel on duty are put on extra alert.”
There is also a Safe Walk programme available to students. “We encourage students to use it. They just have to phone the control room and request an escort from the library to their res, from the dining hall to their res or anywhere across campus.”
Students remain hesitant about future load shedding
Despite these efforts, many students still have hesitations about future power outages.
“They don’t even have those lamps that most educational institutions have in case of no power. In fact, when there was no power people were congregating outside to share light and have company since there is practically nothing you can do when the power is out,” said Silindokuhle Mavuso, geology and palaeontology honours, who stays in International House residence.
Many will resort to studying in other parts of campus to beat the next series of blackouts.
Sipho Malinga, 2nd year BSc Construction Studies, from Men’s Residence Hall said last time it happened, he couldn’t study and “plans to work on West campus when the load shedding happens again”.
Wits Vuvuzela: Lights out for Witsies. March 7, 2014