Cop­per cable thefts prove costly to Govt

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Aux­ilia Ka­ton­go­mara Chron­i­cle Reporter

COP­PER cable thefts in Ka­ma­tivi has dis­rupted ra­dio ser­vices and it is prov­ing costly to Gov­ern­ment to use gen­er­a­tors at trans­mis­sion sites due to loss of power, a se­nior of­fi­cial has said.

Over 1,5 kilo­me­tres worth of cop­per ca­bles were stolen in Ka­ma­tivi re­cently, plung­ing the area into dark­ness and dis­rupt­ing ra­dio ser­vices.

In an in­ter­view on the side­lines of trans­mis­sion site vis­its to Ka­ma­tivi and Man­jolo in Binga on Wed­nes­day, the Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Min­istry of Me­dia, In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Ser­vices, Mr Ge­orge Charamba, be­moaned the vandalism say­ing it was de­rail­ing progress.

“My rea­son for com­ing here fol­lowed some very bad news that we got last week to say that the six ser­vices which were just launched on the Ka­ma­tivi site had been in­ter­rupted and we couldn’t un­der­stand whether this was the work of an engi­neer­ing fail­ure or for some other rea­son and then it emerges that the high ten­sion Zesa line from Hwange feed­ing into Ka­ma­tivi had been van­dalised.

“Ac­tu­ally a stretch of about 50 me­tres and if you con­sider that th­ese lines are mov­ing in a set of three, it means al­most 1,5km of cable have been van­dalised and fur­ther down in Mli­bizi, a whole stretch of seven kilo­me­tres has had its ca­bles van­dalised in a sim­i­lar fash­ion,” he said.

Mr Charamba said fol­low­ing the theft, they had re­sorted to us­ing standby gen­er­a­tors for trans­mis­sion which was very costly. “For­tu­nately for us, at ev­ery site we have made sure that there is a standby gen­er­a­tor in case of power fail­ure ex­cept it was meant to be a standby gen­er­a­tor. Now it’s be­com­ing the main source of power which changes the eco­nomics of that whole sys­tem.

“The unit at Ka­ma­tivi chews some­thing like 2 000 litres per five days that is if you are run­ning it 24/7. Some­one has to drive all the way from Bu­l­awayo car­ry­ing 2 000 litres of diesel to reload the gen­er­a­tor so that there is con­ti­nu­ity of ser­vice thanks to those sabo­teurs who stole our ca­bles,” he said.

Mr Charamba said he first sus­pected that the cop­per ca­bles could have been stolen for re-sale in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries.

“Then the sec­ond in­ter­pre­ta­tion which I then had to de­velop is ac­tu­ally linked to the abuse of wildlife. If you look at the ca­bles that were stolen, around the Ka­ma­tivi area, it doesn’t make com­mer­cial sense to steal one kilo­me­tre ca­bles to ex­port to a neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

“So my gut feel­ing is that the theft is mo­ti­vated by a de­sire to cre­ate snares for cap­tur­ing wildlife for meat, in other words poach­ing,” he said.

Mr Charamba said he strongly sus­pects that the poach­ers had de­vised other means to cre­ate snares from cop­per ca­bles.

“When we had a problem of poach­ers in the Hwange area, we got a very ro­bust re­sponse from the se­cu­rity struc­tures which means those poach­ers can no longer fire guns in the game re­serve. What we are see­ing is prob­a­bly a new shift to creat­ing snares which are a lot qui­eter and there­fore safer for those poach­ers.

“What it means is that what we have stopped by way of guns, we are now suf­fer­ing by way of in­fra­struc­ture and can you imag­ine they dis­ad­van­tage a whole com­mu­nity that was re­ceiv­ing ra­dio ser­vices, dis­ad­van­tage the whole of Ka­ma­tivi area which is no longer lit all for the sake of quench­ing an ap­petite,” he said.

Mr Charamba said he would be en­gag­ing the Min­istry of Wa­ter, En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate, the Min­istry of Power and En­ergy and other se­cu­rity Min­istries to stop the vice. “You can see that we are los­ing our wildlife and in­fra­struc­ture. We are also los­ing the ser­vices and we are also los­ing money. It’s a huge loss, some ro­bust re­sponse would have to come. I will en­gage those Min­istries to make sure that there is a com­pre­hen­sive re­sponse.

“Isn’t it in­ter­est­ing that the problem is only con­fined to Mata­bele­land North. It used to be there in the Mid­lands but we have stopped it and you can now see the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the at­tack on the in­fra­struc­ture and the abuse of the fauna,” he said.

Mr Charamba said one of the rea­sons he had vis­ited Binga was to cel­e­brate the launch of tele­vi­sion since its in­ven­tion in the 1950s.

“Tele­vi­sion ser­vices will soon be avail­able in Binga as work at the Man­jolo site has been com­pleted and we’re now await­ing set top boxes and re­ceivers.

“The first rea­son was of course to cel­e­brate the good works that have hap­pened here. This is the first time since the in­ven­tion of ra­dio and tele­vi­sion that Binga has such a fa­cil­ity so that’s some­thing to be cel­e­brated. Tele­vi­sion was in­vented around 1956 and you can imag­ine that from then un­til only a few weeks back, this area never had a fa­cil­ity for tele­vi­sion so it’s a ma­jor, ma­jor, break­through for us but it does in­di­cate that our ap­proach to de­vel­op­ment is peo­ple-cen­tred,” he said.

Mr Charamba thanked Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa for tak­ing a per­sonal in­ter­est in the pro­gramme and the new dis­pen­sa­tion for avail­ing the re­quired re­sources.

Broad­cast­ing Au­thor­ity of Zim­babwe tech­ni­cal direc­tor En­gi­neer Mathias Chakanyuka said the Man­jolo trans­mis­sion site was ready to go live and only awaits set top boxes. He said they had put up two trans­mit­ters that can host six chan­nels each mean­ing that 12 chan­nels could be re­ceived from the site.

The tele­vi­sion trans­mis­sion stretches from Man­jolo to Mli­bizi across Binga into Zam­bia and cov­ers a ra­dius of be­tween 60 to 80 kilo­me­tres. “It’s ready for trans­mis­sion, we are only wait­ing for set top boxes to come then we are good,” said Eng Chakanyuka. — @Aux­il­iaK

Mr Ge­orge Charamba

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