'Theft contributing to power outages'

HARARE - Theft and vandalism of electricity infrastructure is contributing to unplanned electricity outages, the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said in a statement.

ZETDC — a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings — said there has been an increase in faults due to theft and vandalism of electrical infrastructure, leading to frequent and long power outages which members of the public perceive to be load shedding.

Load shedding, the company said, was eradicated in December 2015 and the country has enough electricity to efficiently service the nation.

To curb theft and vandalism, the power utility is appealing for community participation in the protection of electricity infrastructure in the interest of efficient service delivery.

“In the same vein, ZETDC is inviting whistleblowers to volunteer information that would lead to arrests of perpetrators of theft and vandalism and a reward would be given in proven cases,” the power company said, without revealing the amount of reward offered. ZETDC also said it is pursuing various strategies that include patrols, special operations in liaison with security agents and awareness campaigns to contain the menace from further damaging and interfering with electricity networks.

The country has experienced a series of copper cable thefts over the last months, with police suspecting inside jobs in some of the cases.

Police have said rampant thefts of copper cables are crippling operations at schools, hospitals and other business institutions.

In July, several suburbs in Bulawayo went for more than five days without water after thieves stole copper cables at Ncema Water Works.

During the same month, thieves in Matabeleland South stole copper cables worth more than $28 000 from two different areas in Esigodini.

Last month, angry residents and neighbourhood watch committee members in Bulawayo’s Woodville suburb meted instant justice on three Zesa employees whom they suspected to be copper cables thieves.

The employees had attended to a power outage early in the morning.

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