ZESA loses US$30 million to vandalism
THE country’s integrated electricity generation and distribution company, ZESA Holdings, has lost close to $25 million through vandalism of infrastructure in the last five years, a situation which is threatening the viability of the power utility.
Julian Chinembiri, the managing director of the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission & Distribution Company- a subsidiary of ZESA Holdings- said of this amount, almost $10 million worth of equipment was lost last year alone.
The targeted infrastructure by the thieves includes copper lines and cables and the transformers.
Transformers are vandalised to get transformer oil and copper whilst the lines and cables are vandalised for copper.
“The changed circumstances due to economic hardships has resulted in an unprecedented spate of vandalism of ZESA infrastructure,” said Chinembiri.
“As a utility, we are losing a lot of money. For the past five years, we have lost more than $25 million,” said Chinembiri.
“In 2014 alone, we lost about $10 million worth of equipment and between January and June this year we have lost about $5 million worth of equipment.
“The vandals have targeted copper overhead lines and underground cables and transformer oil. The drainage of transformer oil results in blowing up of transformers leading to loss of supplies to customers.
“The level of vandalism of infrastructure is now outstripping the replacement rate which is also constrained by cash flow challenges.”
“The situation is now out of hand that the company cannot cope with the required rate of replacements and this has caused clients to go for long periods without electricity with the company losing on potential revenue and its image getting tarnished.”
Electricity supply is part of key factors expected to drive government’s economic blueprint called the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation.
The police have dealt with 31 serious cases of electricity infrastructure vandalism and theft of energy between January and June this year.
Out of these cases, 33 arrests were made. During the same period, a total of 6,6 tonnes and 3 963 metres of copper cables were recovered.
The development comes at a time when the power utility is scrambling to generate adequate electricity for the country due to poor domestic power generation.
The country is currently generating about 1 400 megawatts (MW) of power against a national demand of about 2 200MW of electricity at peak periods.
The country is also not getting enough imports to augment supplies. -FinX