COMMENT; Residents must periodically get their properties’ electrical wiring inspected by professionals

SIX houses catching fire in six months in generally the same area — an average one house per month — is concerning. Frightening, in fact.

That is the case with two neighbouring suburbs in Bulawayo — Newton West and Bellevue, which are some of the city’s oldest.

The reason why there have been so many fires, we cite Bulawayo City Council (BCC) acting chief fire officer, Linos Phiri as telling us elsewhere in this edition, is that the electrical wiring in the two suburbs is outdated, thus prone to malfunctioning.

The latest fire destroyed a property in Bellevue on Thursday. Mrs Margret Mpofu, the landlady, suspects the fire was caused by an electrical fault. All the family’s property was destroyed in the inferno and she is appealing for assistance to get by.

Said Mr Phiri:

“Since we are in winter, most people switch on electrical appliances such as heaters to keep themselves warm, but sadly some of these gadgets are plugged into sockets that are faulty. When people forget to disconnect these devices, we end up having these fires. It is important for residents to constantly check the wiring systems since these houses were built several years ago and they are now very old. We usually conduct periodic campaigns warning against such hazards.”

Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company acting general manager for the Western Region, Engineer Lloyd Jaji suspects the aged wiring as well and urged consumers to upgrade their systems to avoid a recurrence of fires.

Indeed, residents of both suburbs must be living in fear, not knowing which house would be aflame next given the inherent weakness in the way the properties were wired. Is it going to start as they sleep, or when they are away at work, or with only kids at home like the case with Mrs Mpofu? If the unfortunate happens, will they make it?

We can imagine the sort of anguish they are undergoing.

And there are many more 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and older properties around the city. North End, Mzilikazi, Makokoba, Mpopoma, Waterford, Sauerstown, Kumalo North and so on. Properties that were wired rudimentarily or whose wiring has aged over the years.

To forestall the possibility of fires breaking out and loss of property and even lives, residents must make the move as soon as yesterday to get their properties inspected by professionals and to rewire them as Messrs Phiri and Jaji advise.

That costs some money, we acknowledge, but whatever sum they will pay will not count for anything if we take into account the possibility of a surprise outbreak in the dead of the night that destroys their properties and household effects and possibly imperil lives.

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