Source: Jail term for using banned light bulbs — Minister | The Herald 5 NOVEMBER 2018
Climate Story Jeffrey Gogo
Government has amended the law that banned the buying and selling of incandescent light bulbs to now make even use of such lights an offence.
That means families could be fined not just for buying the old-style filament bulb, but also storing using in their homes. Businesses, schools and the like are not exempt.
“The use of incandescent lights is banned effective from September 1, 2018,” Energy Minister Joram Gumbo said, in new laws promulgated under Statutory Instrument 208 of 2018, recently.
The regulati0ns have a table of penalties, but generally use of inefficient bulbs (basically incandescent bulbs) under 1000W (the sort of bulb in a house) results in a $50 fine and seizure and destruction of the bulb.
Fines rise for selling or buying, generally $100 a household bulb, and jail sentences come into effect as offences become more serious.
In May 2017, Government, through energy regulator Zera, sponsors of the current amendments, passed a law banning the importation, manufacture or sale of conventional lights, such as Thomas Edison’s filament bulb, and fluorescent tubes.
Authorities are keen on pushing all consumers to switch to more efficient lighting such as the light emitting diode (LED). The idea is that this will help tackle the country’s two-decade power crisis, save up to 42 megawatts of electricity at any one timeand prevent the equivalent of 1 300 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions between now and 2030.
But after about 17 months since the ban came into force, not everyone has made the switch. Zera continues to battle stubborn retailers and wholesalers, mainly from Harare and Bulawayo, who continue to stock and sale the outlawed product. That’s despite the regulator’s glaring limitations due to a lack of manpower. The short-life energy guzzlers should now be all dead unless bought after the import ban.
To date, about 200 000 power-guzzling lights confiscated from several businesses have been destroyed in line with existing laws — and as a way by Zera to get Zimbabweans to listen to its message about the benefits of improved energy efficiency.
No more Mickey Mouse electricians
According to Sam Zaranyika, a senior electricity engineer with Zera, the amended law now makes it an offence to warehouse or to store the banned product, with fines for defaulting reaching $5 000 or two years jail. In the past, offenders were acquitted if they pleaded the stock they were holding was in transit (to another town or country).
Misleading or incorrect labelling will incur a fine of a minimum $25 for every bulb labelled wrongly. The updated version of the Electricity (Inefficient Lighting Products Ban and Labelling) Amendment Regulations also announce a series of measures aimed at preventing electrical accidents in the home and elsewhere while protecting public safety.
From September 1, only qualified electricians certified by a competent body will be allowed to wire houses.
No more backyard electricians and those that utilise such electricians face heavy penalties.
In the case of electrical faults, including those that result in death, state power supplier Zesa will be compelled to “inform the victims of electrical accidents or their next of kin of their rights” to be compensated for their loss.
“We are trying to rein-in the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (a subsidiary of Zesa),” Zaranyika told The Herald Business, by phone. “If there is an accident, it has to be investigated (by ZETDC) and whoever will be responsible, say for opening the wrong switch, will have to appear in court.”
Zaranyika added that those households who employ unqualified electricians will be “in serious trouble.”
Traditional lights target for curbing climate change
Old-fashioned lights have become a key target for governments seeking to curb climate change.
Several countries across southern Africa have outlawed the bulbs, blaming them for wasting quite large amounts of energy as heat.
For example, the incandescent light bulb, which creates light through electricity, heating a thin wire filament to about 3 000°C, converts just about 5 percent of energy it uses to light — the rest goes to waste as heat..
By comparison, Zera’s preferred alternatives for the incandescent, such as the light emitting diode (LED) and compact fluorescent, tend to cost more, but they last longer — about 3 to 5 years — and are more efficient at around 13 to 15 percent.
Zaranyika said the energy regulator is working together with tax collector Zimra and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to apprehend offenders of the lights ban. Zimra has been most effective bringing to book importers and wholesalers of banned lights
Until now, corporate offenders have often gotten off with a fine of as low as $100 — the equivalent of roughly 200 incandescent bulbs of several times the energy demand potential.
God is faithful.