Solarlux Solutions, which installed solar street-lights in Chitungwiza, is accused by the local authority of vandalising them after a contractual dispute.
The company installed the street-lights at Makoni Shopping Centre along Seke and Mharapara roads.
Chitungwiza entered into a contractual agreement with Solarlux for the provision of the lights at Makoni.
Based on the contract, the solar company was supposed to provide, erect and install solar street lights and in return, recoup its investment from advertising revenue that would be generated from bill boards mounted on the lights.
Chitungwiza Municipality acting town clerk Dr Tonderai Kasu told The Herald that the agreement also stated that ownership of all the street lights and all associated physical infrastructure would eventually be transferred to council.
“The municipality therefore became concerned when Solarlux instructed one of its employees to vandalise the street lights by removing fixtures and components of the street lights.
“This action on the part of Solarlux was unlawful, and by removing components of the street lights, Solarlux was in breach of contract given that it states that ownership of the street lights and associated physical infrastructure is supposed to eventually be transferred to the municipality,” said Dr Kasu.
He said alert municipal police officers arrested and referred to the Zimbabwe Republic Police the suspects.
The matter is still under police investigation and Chitungwiza expects that the criminal docket will be presented to court as soon as investigations are completed.
However, Solarlux head of operations Mr Fidelis Ruwaze denied the allegations.
“Well, that is not true. We actually wrote a letter to the council notifying them that we will be removing them due to vandalism and theft at the site and we proceeded to do so then we surrendered the equipment to the council for safe keeping,” said Ruwaze.
“We also have a letter as evidence from the council acknowledging receipt.”
Residents such as Alice Kuveya, director of Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) says the tiff between Chitungwiza and the solar energy company was now endangering the lives of residents.
“Residents are living in fear as thieves are prowling those areas,” said Kuveya.
Chitungwiza has 216 tower lights and the municipality has an ongoing programme of works to maintain these tower lights.
The municipality’s long-term plan is to have street lights on Tilcor Road, Mharapara Road, and all other major roads in Chitungwiza.
The estimated cost of this project is about US$500 000.