Vandals cost Zesa US$40m

By Staff reporter | 03 Sep 2019 at 14:53hrs
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) requires at least US$40 million to replace more than 4 000 transformers, which have been vandalised across the country.

Spokesperson, Mr Fullard Gwasira, said the company was losing a lot of infrastructure due to vandalism of its critical equipment.  He said in addition to vandalism of transformers, more than 1 000km of power lines have been destroyed, exacerbating the power transmission challenge in the country.

While the power utility's generation capacity has been constrained due to ageing equipment at thermal stations and drought-induced lowering of water levels at the giant Kariba Dam, the situation was worsened by the destruction of equipment.

"We need at least US$40 million to replace vandalised and obsolete transformers throughout the country," said Mr Gwasira.

He said the company was experiencing increased incidents of vandalism, some of which have caused loss of lives, as thieves attempt to drain transformer oil or cut copper cable conductors.

"There is a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years to a person caught vandalising or stealing our poles.

"However, this seems not deterrent enough as we continue losing a lot of equipment to thieves. "Out of over 4 000 transformers and 1 000km of our lines that we have lost, more than 70 percent mislay is through vandalism and that is cause of grave concern. I, therefore, wish the mandatory sentence be increased to at least 20 years," he said.

Mr Gwasira said given the above scenario the power supply situation would continue to face serious challenges.  He appealed to those with outstanding debts to pay their dues so the company may be able to provide power.

"A number of clients sit on a huge debt and our appeal is that they should pay up. There are those without these prepaid meter systems, they should come forward to make payment arrangements. We need the money to cater for maintenance of our lines and transformers," he said.

Energy and Power Development Minister, Fortune Chasi recently said industry and individuals owe Zesa about $1,2 billion. He said if the debt is cleared it would go a long way in addressing some of the challenges that the company faced.

The country desperately needs additional resources to import more power from regional producers as a short term measure to satisfy industry and domestic consumption needs.