STUNG by the relentless vandalism of electricity infrastructure particularly transformers, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC), has begun installing alarms at transformers in some parts of the country to fight the menace, a top official has said. The alarms have been designed in such a way that when a person gets closer to a transformer, they would be triggered, prompting the rapid response team and ZETDC officials to spring into action.
ZETDC managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri, told The Herald Business yesterday that they are also forging closer ties with communities in a desperate bid to curtail vandalism of key electricity infrastructure.
“We are currently installing alarms on transformers in some areas so that when a person gets closer to the transformer, the alarm will sound to the rapid response and to us (ZETDC). When the alarms sound, then the people (rapid response and ZETDC) will react. In Harare we have installed alarms in Waterfalls and we will do that in other areas. We are also working with communities to look after those transformers,” said Eng Chinembiri.
He said the current power blackouts being experienced in some parts of the country are caused by the alarming rate of destruction of transformers.
“Vandalism of transformers is causing the power outages; people are draining oil from transformers – damaging them in the process – and the rate of replacement is slower than the rate of damaging the transformers,” said Eng Chinembiri.
He explained that foreign currency shortages – which are impacting negatively on most sectors of the economy – are also hampering the importation of raw materials used in the manufacture of transformers. Zesa Enterprises (Zent) – a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings – is responsible for the production of transformers.
“We have problems with transformers; Zent, which makes transformers, has to import raw materials. But the problem is foreign currency; that is where the challenge is,” said Eng Chinembiri.
Over 16 000 electricity clients have gone for some time without power, while others such as Dzivarasekwa 2, Harare, say they are in the fifth month without electricity after the transformer in the area was reportedly damaged. The residents told The Herald Business yesterday that they have been forced to contribute $2 per family by unscrupulous citizens, who purported to be acting on behalf of ZETDC, so that a new transformer could be purchased.
However, Eng Chinembiri said people who collect money on the pretext they want to hand it over to ZETDC, will be “stealing from clients”.
“People are being fleeced of their money under circumstances we don’t have control over. Those are thieves, but people should not just contribute money,” he said.
From January 2016 to August this year, ZETDC said power infrastructure worth $4,1 million was lost due to theft and vandalism. ZETDC’s loss control department, together with other security agents, recovered equipment worth $600 000. Between January and August this year, 1 599 cases of vandalism were recorded. ZETDC says 1 700 transformers need to be replaced.