The Sunday News
Simba Jemwa, Sunday News Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Electricity, Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has said residents are not forced to buy replacement cables after they have been stolen, and can wait for the power utility to source and replace them.
However, the power utility quickly pointed out that those with the capacity to contribute will have their accounts credited with their contributions. It has also refuted allegations of collusion with a company that supplies aluminium cables saying proper tender procedures were followed and the company won the tender to supply aluminium cables.
The clarity comes amid suspicions from residents of Hillside and Hillcrest in Bulawayo that the power company was forcing them to buy replacement cables from a company called Cafca. The residents made the accusations after another cable was stolen in the area and ZETDC staff suggested to them that they buy the replacement cable.
The residents said they have endured cable theft since December last year and urged ZETDC to consider removing all copper cables and replace them with aluminium ones rather than wait for the cables to be stolen and make residents replace them.
The theft of cables affected residents living along Durham, Cambridge, Hereford, Buckingham, part of Leicester and part of Stafford roads.
“As a block, we have contributed more than eight times with some families having contributed close to US$100 as it is. We have never been reimbursed since January and our plight is that Zesa works with Cafca and harvest all the copper in exchange for aluminium. We have engaged Zesa but we have not been assisted,” said a resident.
ZETDC Western region manager Engineer Lloydi Jaj, however, told Sunday News that the biggest problem was vandalism. He said all stakeholders needed to work together to ensure that there was no theft of electricity property.
“If we do not remove the copper, they will steal it anyway. After that we then have to buy replacement cables from our resources. Being proactive we came up with a programme to replace the copper before it’s stolen so we recoup some value from it. To support the programme, we went to tender nationally for a supplier of aluminium cables in exchange for copper and that tender was won by Cafca.
The cables that are at stores and were supplied by Cafca are therefore contractually tied. In the meantime, where thieves have stolen, we must source for replacement cables using other funding mechanisms. If at the time of theft, we do not have such cables in stock, clients have two options — one is to wait for us to source the cables or if they cannot wait and have capacity, they can buy and supply the required quantity and as compensation we then credit their accounts,” said Engineer Jaji. — @RealSimbaJemwa