MERCEDES-BENZ SAYS: Ten 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vehicles, bought in a multi-million rand deal by the Electricity Division at Ethekwini Municipality in Durban for use in the maintenance of high voltage lines, have lightened the local authority’s load…. in more ways than one!
Previously the division’s teams travelled into rough terrain in old-style utility vehicles towing trailers with technicians and workers often bouncing around with the equipment. Not only was this uncomfortable, it was also potentially dangerous considering there were no safety belts at the back of the vehicles
The advent of the converted Sprinters has changed everything - now there is a sealed, separate compartment for the equipment while team members sit buckled up in the comfortable seven-seater passenger section enjoying air-conditioning!
Manager of the High Voltage Lines section, Thokozani Kunene, said the vehicles had been in operation for a few months ferrying staff who service the lines and structures in the Ethekwini Municipality’s area which extends from Tongaat in the north to Illovo in the south and inland to Cato Ridge.
This involves a total of about 650km of high voltage line which has to be maintained on an almost continual basis to ensure power failures are kept to a minimum. This often entails physically clearing the lines of rust, corrosion and the replacement of high voltage line equipment.
Kunene explained that when they started searching for new vehicles the Sprinters had immediately impressed them. “But we needed more than a mini-bus type of vehicle so several modifications were necessary including 4x4 conversions (done in Johannesburg), individual seats, a separate compartment for tools and equipment, a bull bar, a tow bar and a roof rack for our step ladders.
“There was also a requirement for the vehicle to handle a load of three tons and more.
“We told Mercedes-Benz what we wanted and they said it was all possible. The deal went ahead and we ordered 10 of the converted Sprinter 4x4 315 CDi vehicles which are serving us handsomely today,” said Kunene.