6 000 pre-paid electricity meters condemned

HARARE - About 6 000 pre-paid electricity meters installed by Chinese contractor, ZTE, were condemned with the Energy ministry cancelling the ZTE contract on the back of this failure rate, a Cabinet minister said.

Energy minister Samuel Undenge, last week told the National Assembly that to date, 575 667 pre-paid electricity meters had been installed since inception in 2011, with a tender for installation of an additional 130 000 meters hanging in the balance.

“Failure rate has been within acceptable industrial standards except meters supplied by ZTE that exhibited high failure rate.

“ZTE contract was cancelled as a result of the high failure rate. Total number of meters that failed to date is around 6 000 which translates to one percent of the installed base,” he said.

This comes as Zesa Holdings distribution subsidiary’s managing director, Julian Chinembiri, last week told a local weekly that the power company was set to miss its 650 000 installation target.

Undenge pointed out that due to the meters shortage, it had taken long to replace some of the meters failing at site.

“…but there is a plan to replace all faulty meters as soon as the next delivery of meters is received,” said the minister.

His responses were to issues raised by Bulawayo West Member of Parliament Eddie Cross, who sought to take the minister to task over pre-paid electricity meter installation around the country.

“How many pre-paid electricity meters have been installed in homes and business premises throughout Zimbabwe ever since the programme began?

“Can you detail how many pre-paid meters have malfunctioned since installation and what Zesa is doing to repair or replace such meters and when the programme would commence.

“Can you detail the guarantee that was issued by the manufacturer or supplier and to state whether those obligations are being met, and if not, to explain why that is the case,” Cross said.

Undenge also revealed that the meter warranty period had been extended to 36 months from the standard 12 months at Zetdc’s request.

“Manufacturers have also offered meters at no additional cost to replace those failing at site after expiry of warranty.

“Most of the failures are to do with exposure to harsh environmental conditions, especially rain,” Undenge said.

According to the minister, Zetdc had also improved the technical specification of the metres to ensure meters have a higher Ingress Protection rating and more resistant to harsh environmental conditions.

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