Powerlines 60th anniversary
60 Years of History
Powerlines has made a substantial contribution to the industrialization of South Africa and neighbouring countries.
With the construction of almost 50 000km of powerlines, the electrification of hundreds of kilometers of railway lines, the erection of hundreds of telecommunication towers, and the production of many thousand tons of components for the mining, automotive and railway industry, Powerlines is proud of its contribution to the realization of the biggest economy in Africa - the economy of South Africa.
In January 1954 the Power Lines Company was formed. The idea was to operate solely in construction, but quickly grew to include the production of towers, fittings and maintenance of line equipment. The establishment of workshops and stores necessitated the purchase of a 4 hectare property in Nigel in 1956.
Awarded the contract for the construction of the Kariba Transmission System in Northern Rhodesia. Three 330kV lines, originating from the Kariba hydro-electric power station, leading north to the Copperbelt, Salisbury (Harare) and Bulawayo - a total of 1475 km of powerlines. More than 100 linesmen were brought in from Italy to implement this project.
Galvanising plant was commissioned at the Nigel Factory in the late 1950’s and in the early 60’s the production of Line Hardware and Fasteners began, establishing the following departments: Tool Room (for the manufacturing of dies, tools and fixtures), Forging, Aluminium Casting, Machining, Assembly and Dispatch.
Construction of the 533kV Direct Current line from Cabora Bassa Hydroelectric Power Station (North-West Mozambique) to Apollo Substation (near Pretoria). This was the first DC line in the world, consisting of two parallel lines, each approximately 530km long.
Construction of a 220kV line spanning 1 510km in Namibia, from Ruacana, near the Angolan border, to the Aggeneys Substation located in the Northern Cape in South Africa.
The Nigel factory expanded to 17.6 hectares and approximately 1400 employees. A gas plant was built on site which produced gas from coal, to feed various ovens and burners for Forging, Galvanizing and “Condor” departments. The Condor department produced Coil and Leaf springs for the automotive market.
Computers were introduced into the offices and the factory, Steel Carpentry began to operate numeric control production machines. Powerlines developed and operated a computerized Factory Control Program (FCP) still in use today.
Powerlines invested about 14 million rand in a new Galvanizing plant. The plant was a model for the industry and the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere due to new filtration technologies employed.
Powerlines is awarded sizeable contracts in Nigeria, Mexico, Libiya and other countries.
Construction of the 200km long, 110kV Gurue- Quamba-Lichinga line in Mozambique
Construction of a 220kV, 300km long line in Botswana and completion of the Mosselbay-Proteus 400kV line in the Eastern Cape, only 30km long, but over challenging terrain.
Awarded the Eskom contract for Section A of the construction of the 400 kV Hendrina-Gumeni transmission line in Mpumalanga.
Awarded the Eskom Kappa-Sterrekus 765kV project and the Zambia Kafue-Livingston Upgrade Project (345km of 220kV transmission line to 330 kV)