Travellers had to negotiate South Africa’s busiest travel hub in the dark on Sunday when a fire at a major Eskom sub-station led to power outages at OR Tambo International airport as well as across the neighbouring areas of Isando & Spartan Industrial, Kempton Park CBD, Aston Manor and Bonaero Park.

A transformer caught fire mid-morning.

The airport was plunged into darkness, with passengers being forced to find their way – and their luggage – in the dark. The crisis comes just before Eskom’s make-or-break week of negotiations with striking workers. The protests have already exacerbated coal shortages due to strikers blocking deliveries to some Eskom power stations.

Eskom’s Gauteng senior manager maintenance and operations Motlhabane Ramashi said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

Commentators noted that the event did little to encourage faith in Eskom’s ability to supply reliable energy.

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