The blackout was the longest recorded in the city

Blackout: About 1,500 residents in Changzamtog, Thimphu were left without electricity for more than 30 hours over the weekend when two private constructions’ excavators cut off the main transmission line for the area.

The outage that began in the early morning of December 6 was resolved around 2:20 pm yesterday. Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC) officials said that although such incidents occur frequently in the capital this was by far the longest blackout the office recorded.

A team from BPC was deployed around 8am on Sunday after the officials received complaints from the residents. According to BPC officials, a private bulldozer had excavated the main transmission line that runs near Chundu Sawmill in Changzamtog.

BPC’s head of operations and management, Sonam Tshewang said the team managed to fix the line around 5:30pm. However, when the first joint was put in place, another private excavator had bulldozed the same power cables some 40 to 50 metres down.

“On an average, fixing one single joint requires around three to four hours and here we had two joints damaged,” he said. “It is a high voltage cable and in winter we cannot work during the night because the cables gets frozen and chances of breaking and causing more damage is high.”

Meanwhile, some of the residents in the area received electricity towards the evening from an alternative source. However, not all homes could be supplied with power from the alternative source, as it could not support the capacity.

BPC’s manager Tshewang Rinzin said Changzamtog area has only one main source of power unlike the core area, which is powered by two sources. “Here the main source was damaged and no other alternatives were available,” he said. “This incident recorded the highest number of customers affected and also was the longest outage so far.”

Chundu Sawmill’s owner Chabilal Adikari said he couldn’t operate his machines for a whole day on Sunday because of the outage. “People from BPC were working from the morning and said that power will be restored latest by the evening,” he said. “However, another damage in the line near my factory was detected that prolonged the blackout.”

BPC officials said that in Thimphu such cases are frequent and on an average one or two cases are reported a month. “Excavators and tippers with huge loads usually cause such damages to the cables, either underground or the aerial,” Sonam Tshewang said.

Tshewang Rinzin said the poor network reception on Sunday added to the frustration of the residents. “It was not that we were not available during that time but the mobile network was down in the area,” he said. “People assumed we were not responding to their complaints but we were already on the field, repairing the damage.”

The manager said that the two individuals would be liable for the damage caused to the office and also to residents. “We’ll formally take up the matter as it had caused us a lot of problems,” he said. “There are rules and regulations in place regarding such incidents. The two individuals will be dealt accordingly.”

BPC officials urged the public to cooperate with the office and inform them of such issues as soon as possible to minimize the cost and to provide a better service.

Younten Tshedup