Africa Moyo Business Reporter
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has deployed its loss control officers in some parts of the country — particularly in areas hard hit by vandalism on key infrastructure — to contain the menace.
This comes as ZETDC, which is Zesa Holdings’ electricity distribution arm, is battling to acquire transformers to replace those that were vandalised mainly in urban areas.
Recently, there were reports that about 1 600 transformers had been vandalised across the country, and the number is feared to have dramatically grown amid indications that reports of vandalised electricity infrastructure are received daily.
ZETDC managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri told The Herald Business that he had advised officers to establish the extent of vandalism in monetary terms, despite the fact that foreign currency to replace the infrastructure remains an issue.
“We are still struggling to replace them because of foreign currency issues. We are gathering information from the regions and I have tasked the regions to give me the figures.
“We get reports of faults every day. I cannot say what the value of the damaged equipment is until we finish compiling the information, but we have actually tasked the loss control department to be on the ground so as to minimise incidences of vandalism,” said Eng Chinembiri.
Zimbabwe is experiencing foreign currency shortages due to low exports resulting in several sectors of the economy, especially manufacturing and mining, having their operations significantly affected as they can’t import raw materials and spare parts.
The country is also battling a foreign currency crisis due to low foreign investment and limited access to foreign lines of credit among other factors
Due to the foreign currency shortage, ZETDC said it was taking longer than normal to restore service to affected customers.
ZETDC had previously installed alarms on some transformers to reduce incidents of vandalism, as the rapid response team would be alerted by tampering, but the move cannot be replicated across the country because of financial challenges.
Eng Chinembiri said vandalism could be addressed if citizens “change their culture” mainly towards infrastructure that benefits communities.
“We have put alarms before so that we address the issue of vandalism, but these are unnecessary costs which can be avoided if people change their habits. Alarms are an unnecessary investment because of people who do not appreciate the value of infrastructure in the country. We do not have a lot of money to meet those costs,” he said.
In the absence of key infrastructure such as transformers, ZETDC is missing out on revenue as consumers, who are now largely on the prepaid platform, cannot access the electricity.
Several parts of the country have endured over four months without electricity due to the scourge of theft and vandalism of key infrastructure.
ZETDC has since started lobbying communities to partake in the fight against theft, vandalism and safeguard electricity infrastructure for continued efficient service delivery.