Nqobile Tshili, Business Correspondent
VANDALISM of electricity infrastructure is crippling implementation of new projects across the country as available funding is being channelled towards replacing vandalised equipment, a senior official has said.
Chief Energy Development Officer for Matabeleland region in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development, Mr Peace Rugube said vandalism and theft of Zesa equipment is on the increase in the country. He, however, did not provide statistics of the recorded incidents and how much it has cost Zesa in the past few months.
Mr Rugube said vandalism has seen Zesa putting on halt some of its developmental projects just to replace stolen or vandalised infrastructure.
“We have dealt with load shedding problem. We are no longer experiencing load shedding. If you experience power cuts it would be because of a fault. But the new problem that has surfaced is the theft of copper cables,” said Mr Rugube.
“We know there are educated people among us. Some are engineers and technicians and are the ones working with these thieves that destroy the infrastructure.”
He said due to shortage of foreign currency Zesa was struggling to connect power to new suburbs. Most of Bulawayo’s new suburbs are without electricity and some of these suburbs were built 20 yers ago.
Mr Rugube said the situation has been exacerbated by vandalism of Zesa infrastructure.
“One of the reasons leading to Zesa failing to connect power to new suburbs is that we are battling the theft of copper cables. We are now using a lot of money to replace stolen copper cables, instead of advancing our plans like connecting new suburbs with power,” said Mr Rugube.
He said residents who are capable of raising funds to buy electricity infrastructure can approach Zesa’s institutions and make arrangements. Mr Rugube said Government was working on setting up a law that will compel private property developers to also provide electricity infrastructure in areas they are developing.
“Land developers should also provide power infrastructure as part of land development. At the moment land developers are putting sewer and water reticulation infrastructure and we want them to add power infrastructure,” said Mr Rugube.