Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has bemoaned infrastructure vandalism, saying this year alone the parastatal has lost equipment valued at nearly $5 million.
Speaking in a telephone interview yesterday, ZESA public relations manager Mr Fullard Gwasira said the theft of copper cables was crippling the parastatal operations.
“Last year alone, we lost $5 million due to vandalism of infrastructure, primarily theft of copper cables.
We lose a lot of revenue and it becomes difficult to work on new projects and develop the country when we have to keep on replacing vandalised equipment. As at September 2018, we had lost more than $4,5 million” said Mr Gwasira.
He said a disturbing development is that copper cable thieves are now cutting down poles or burning them to access power lines.
Mr Gwasira said burning poles to get cables was contributing to veld fires.
“We are battling veld fires and deforestation as a result of the actions of these copper cable thieves,” he said.
Asked to comment on the allegations that some ZESA officials were involved in the theft of copper cables, Mr Gwasira said it was difficult to conclude without evidence
“We have dealt with a few cases where our workers were implicated and those found guilty were dealt with in terms of the law,” he said.
Mr Gwasira applauded the police for their efforts to bring culprits to book.
“We have received a lot of support from the police and the arrests made so far are sending a very strong message to criminals that their days are numbered,” he said.
Acting Bulawayo police spokesperson inspector Abednico Ncube said police were patrolling areas where copper cable thefts were rampant.
Last week five people were arrested for copper cable theft and two of them were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.