Govt secures $5 million for new transformers

Source: Govt secures $5 million for new transformers | The Herald June 7, 2017

Business Reporter
Government has secured a $5 million loan facility for the purchase of transformers to replace those lost through vandalism or theft. Zesa Holdings lost about $30 million worth of equipment in 2015 due to vandalism and theft resulting in interruption of power supply.Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge on Monday said Government is worried by the rate at which electricity infrastructure is being lost through vandalism and theft.

“There has been a massive shortage of transformers and other electricity distribution gadgets. This has been due to lack of funding and challenges being faced by the country in making foreign payments.

“We have secured a $5 million loan facility for the purchase of these transformers and I appeal to members of the public to report all cases of vandalism and theft of electricity equipment,” said Dr Undenge.

“We have received reports that some of the people behind those theft cases are employees of the power utility. In such case they must be reported because a thief is a thief whether he/she works for Zesa Holdings,” he said.

The problem of theft is most prevalent in power infrastructure such as transformers, where oil is drained and copper components stripped, overhead wire transmission lines, which are stolen and sold locally or exported.

This $5 million loan comes at a time when Government has committed to releasing Treasury Bills (TB’s) worth about $600 million to clear debts owed to Zesa Holdings by local authorities and State enterprises.

Zesa Holdings through its subsidiary, Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company has been battling to recover over $1 billion in unpaid power bills. Such a situation saw the power utility failing to raise funds for the purchase of critical electricity transmission equipment.

On prepaid meters, Energy and Power Development Permanent Secretary Partson Mbiriri said the country is not yet fully equipped. He said about 600 000 consumers have been migrated onto the prepaid metres system out of a target of 800 000.

Last year, Zesa Holdings through its subsidiary the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company was expecting a full batch of 130 000 pre-paid electricity meters but these were delayed due to shortages of foreign currency and procurement issues.

The shortage of pre-paid meters precipitated corruption with some ZETDC employees reportedly taking advantage of the situation by demanding bribes to install the pre-paid meters for customers.

“Those that still owes Zesa are not on prepaid meters and are the huge consumers who should be put on smart meters. The bulk of the revenue for Zesa comes from the few large consumers of electricity who remain on postpaid,” Mr Mbiriri added. He said the power utility is at procurement stage for smart meters to be used by large consumers.