COMMENT: Community involvement critical in anti-vandalism
Zimbabwe is spending millions of dollars every year to replace vandalised critical public infrastructure. President Mnangagwa has described as treasonous the increased cases of vandalism that the country is witnessing.
In response to increased cases of vandalism, President Mnangagwa has directed stakeholders in the criminal justice system and communities across the country to work closely to bring these acts of sabotage to an end.
President Mnangagwa has said he is concerned by the increasing cases of vandalism of key infrastructure because such acts of sabotage were disrupting service delivery in many sectors of the economy.
He said there was a need for deterrent sentences hence he directed stakeholders in the criminal justice system to work closely with the communities in order to come up with appropriate punishment for those convicted of vandalism.
Vandalism of key infrastructure is disrupting power supplies, communication, mining operations, industrial production and transportation of goods among other operations.
In some cases suburbs are going for weeks without electricity as a result of vandalism of transformers and theft of copper cables. Vandals have been a menace at the Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifer in Nyamandlovu where they are vandalising transformers and stealing copper cables.
Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifer supply water to Bulawayo. Government has pumped in more than $20 million on drilling boreholes and putting up electricity infrastructure which includes transformers at the aquifer. About 20 transformers have been vandalised at Epping Forest and Rochester Aquifer and at one time the situation was so bad that as soon as a transformer was replaced, the vandals pounced.
The boreholes at Rochester and Epping Forest augment Bulawayo’s water supplies. We have said it before that the vandals whose actions are negatively impacting our lives, live within communities and should be flashed out.
Government cannot put physical barriers to protect public infrastructure across the country hence the need for communities to join hands in fighting vandalism and thefts.
We want at this juncture to commend the National University of Science and Technology (Nust) for responding to the challenge of vandalism of critical infrastructure.
The university, through its Innovation Hub, is working on a number of innovations to curb vandalism of electricity infrastructure. The university said it intends to come up with an anti-vandalism system hence it wants to work closely with Zesa.
Innovations like this technology-driven solution to vandalism is what we expect from our institutions of higher learning following the adoption of the heritage-based Education 5.0 model.