Electricity infrastructure vandalism continues

By Peter Chivhima

Power utility ZESA has welcomed the sailing of the Electricity and Copper Control Amendment Bill through parliament and senate, saying the law will be key towards ending the continued vandalism of electricity infrastructure.

The Electricity and Copper Control Amendment Bill sailed through both the lower and upper houses of assembly last week and ZESA is convinced the imposition of a jail sentence of up to 30 years will deter would-be offenders.

In an interview with the ZBC News this Sunday, ZESA Spokesperson, Dr George Manyaya said the power utility cannot continue losing property to vandals, amid indications that losses amount to US$4 million each year.

“We welcome the mandatory sentencing and also as an entity we are lobbying for review of regulations to stop scrap metal and copper waste export since these licences create a market for vandalism,” he said.

ZESA has also been lobbying for the Judiciary Service Commission (JSC) to prioritise infrastructure vandalism cases and is currently installing surveillance and anti-vandalism technology on its infrastructure.

“The utility lobbied the judiciary system to prioritise finalisation of vandalism cases through its distributed judiciary network, employment of an anti-vandalism campaign through surveillance systems, internet of things starting with intrusion technology, joint anti vandalism community engagement programmes integrated communication programmes, amongst others.”

535 cases of copper cable theft and vandalism are pending at the courts, with the power utility having also lost 18 electricity transformers within a space of a week in June.

Theft and vandalism of transformers and copper cables is not only bleeding the power utility of millions of dollars annually, but is also derailing the country’s infrastructure development drive.