Hwange residents fume over sustained power cuts

By Mhlomuli Ncube

Residents of Ngumija and Raylton areas in Hwange are furious with the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) as they accuse the parastatal of denying them electricity for the past seven to eight months.

According to the residents, they have gone for almost eight months without power and it all began when NRZ removed copper cables from their properties citing continuous theft.

The residents further allege that the parastatal is still billing for power they are not getting.

“They came here and removed all copper cables saying they are replacing it with aluminum. Until now they haven’t done so and we continue to live in the dark,” a resident said.

Another noted: “Imagine this is only about 2km from a huge power station that supplies electricity to the nation. We can’t even get answers from NRZ.”

Ngumija Clinic has also been affected as the health centre now uses a generator to power its operations.

In the middle of a town that produces power for the nation, the residents feel short-changed.

However, the NRZ says it is in control of the situation. The parastatal told the ZBC News that the two settlements have both NRZ employees and those who are not employees, but bought the properties as independent tenants. 

The state-owned utility says it expects the process of all changes that it started to be completed in the next 2 weeks at a cost of ZW$10 million.

“What was happening was that NRZ was being billed for all bulk costs like for water and electricity so an exercise was embarked on to separate for each household to be accountable for their amenities bills inclusive of electricity.

“You will find out that, for example, in Raylton, out of 137 houses only seven belong to the NRZ the 130 were sold, but the bills for ZESA are with NRZ, which is unsustainable, hence the exercise to separate for each household. The same applies to Ngumija, where some don’t belong to NRZ,” a statement from the NRZ reads.

“This exercise commenced end of October and is works in progress. So far, 90 percent of the works have been done and we are left with about 10 percent.

“What it means is that we will at the end of the project hand over all infrastructure to ZESA since they requested that we upgrade and re-connect stolen copper cables. On realising that most of the copper was being stolen, the organisation had to remove what was remaining which was then exchanged for the aluminum cables which have been installed. What’s required are accessories which total amount to ZW$10 million for the exercise to be complete.

“Obviously, you will hear the same sentiments coming again where it is not the responsibility of NRZ to connect individuals from the ZESA pole metre into the houses. This will only be done to NRZ premises. It will take NRZ about two weeks to complete the exercise once all the required materials are available, after that ZESA will do their part and the Bulk metering system will no longer be there.”