Zesa staggers over vandalism

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Blessings Mashaya

REELING from vandalism of its infrastructure, Zesa Holdings subsidiary — the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) — now plans to spend US$13,5 million on high-tech equipment to curb the scourge, the Daily News reports.


This comes as the country’s electricity crisis is worsening, following continuing breakdowns at the power utility’s creaky generation units at Kariba and Hwange.


It also comes as Zesa has just revealed that it is losing at least US$2 million a year to vandals.
In a report tabled in the National Assembly, deputy Energy minister Magna Mudyiwa said ZETDC would install the contemplated intruder detection systems in phases.


“ZETDC has resolved to install intruder detection systems on approximately 27 000 distribution transformers nationwide, at an approximate cost of US$13,5 million.


“But due to financial resource limitations, this will be done in a phased manner. About 80 transformers have been installed as a pilot project. Contracts are now in place to install 8 000 sites this year.


“Vandalism of distribution transformers and conductors has been on the rise during the past five years. This has resulted in losses of about US$2 million per year,” Mudyiwa said.


“The vandalism scourge is a serious drawback to the economy due to lack of guarantee of security of electricity supply.

“The problem of theft and vandalism of transformers and lines for copper and oil is a serious threat to the operations of Zesa.

“It would be very much appreciated if the 10-year mandatory sentence could be reviewed in line with what is obtaining in the southern African region.

“In South Africa, the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Number 18 of 2015, provides for a 30-year jail term,” Mudyiwa said further.

This comes as Zesa recently announced a fresh load shedding schedule, notwithstanding the fact that in January this year the government announced plans to clear its arrears with Mozambique and South Africa — after securing a US$100 million facility from Afreximbank and reviving a 30-year tri-lateral agreement with the two neighbouring countries as part of short-term solutions to stabilise local power supplies.

The tri-lateral agreement, that was first signed in 1990, allows Zimbabwe to negotiate for “firm and competitively priced” electricity from Cahora Bassa and Eskom.

It also comes as Zesa announced earlier this year that it had hired two European companies to restore two power units — three and six — at Hwange Thermal Power Station by March.

The two units were expected to add an additional and much-needed 300MW to the national grid.
Last year, Zimbabwe experienced one of its worst power crises — which forced Zesa to effect punishing load shedding schedules which lasted up to 18 hours a day.

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