ZETDC loses more than $1,6m to vandalism, theft
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has lost more than a $1,6 million worth of infrastructure to theft and vandalism cases amid revelations that Government is lobbying for the criminalisation of scrap copper possession to curb the illegality.
Energy and Power Development minister Dr Jorum Gumbo, said in an interview that the power utility lost $1 657 707 worth of infrastructure to vandalism and theft and has recovered a meagre $125 905 worth of property with a total number of 336 cases having been reported countrywide.
“The power supply authority has lost a total value of $1 657 707 to theft and vandalism, where only $125 905 of property has since been recovered. A total of 336 cases have been reported and only 45 arrests have been made with a total of 85 years of convictions,” he said.
Dr Gumbo said the ministry was working on introducing stern measures to curb any further loss of infrastructure. He said they were doing internal investigations although no Zesa employees have so far been implicated or convicted of any of the cases.
“We are not necessarily saying they are not involved but investigations will be launched and any Zesa personnel who will be implicated will be prosecuted. We will also be implementing measures to prevent any further loss of property. There is a need to consolidate all laws regarding such cases into a singular law to address this issue. Other measures will include, regular patrols at base stations and key areas, lobby for the ban of scrap copper dealing. We do not mine copper in Zimbabwe and therefore we believe those dealing in scrap copper have a hand in cases of copper theft.
“We will also deploy security guards at sub-stations, implement stiffer penalties on perpetrators, conduct community awareness campaigns on both TV and radio and also have whistle blowers, who will in turn be rewarded with a percentage of what is recovered from their tip off,” said Dr Gumbo.
He said the impact of theft and vandalism cases on power supply infrastructure had set back the power supply authority.
“The impact of the thefts and vandalism has set the power supply authority 40 years back. The infrastructure is meant to last 40 years but because of this it has to be repeatedly replaced, therefore hindering any further development. Instead of servicing new customers we constantly have to service old ones. This has a major crunch on operational costs,” said Dr Gumbo.
He said this had also contributed to the prolonged power outages affecting various other economic sectors such as the current water shedding regime in Bulawayo that was a result of vandalism of power cables making water pumping low.
“As citizens we should take social responsibility and alert officials of any criminal activity on our infrastructure. It does not belong to a company but the country. We should work collectively in curbing these crimes. If at all possible people should also conduct citizen’s arrest, this should stop, as this sets the country backwards in terms of development,” said Dr Gumbo.