Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

ZETDC decries electricity theft

by Staff reporter
23 Jun 2022 at 06:44hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has said there is widespread theft of electricity as some people are bypassing its power regulation systems and consuming electricity at no cost.

In Bulawayo this is said to be more prevalent in suburbs such as Cowdray Park and Mahatshula.

It is said youths constitute most of electricity users who bypass electricity systems to steal power.

This emerged on Tuesday following a visit to Bulawayo by ZETDC senior management who visited the city to assess how the power utility will incorporate all the housing units into the pre-paid payment system.

ZETDC has procured 100 000 prepaid meters as it targets to complete the placement of all its customers under this system by June next year.

The power utility says some of the parastatal's clients who bypass the system are discovered when they do not buy electricity for a prolonged period resulting in ZETDC officials conducting checks at those homes.

ZETDC Revenue Assurance manager Engineer Wilfred Shereni said theft of electricity by consumers is happening in both western and eastern suburbs.

He said at houses where there is tampering with electricity, some of the people living there will not be aware of the theft.

"I wouldn't want to mention names but it's all over but when we did an audit, we found some meters were bypassed in those areas (Cowdray and Mahatshula).

But we still have some good customers in those areas.

Even in low density suburbs you will find some customers bypassing but some of the customers won't know it," said Eng Shereni.

"There are some people who go around claiming to be consultants, so, some of our customers, you will find their meters having been bypassed without even them knowing."

He said of concern is that despite Government coming up with stiff regulations to deter clients from tampering with power infrastructure, customers still do it.

"We identify them when we do those audits.

There is a penalty of up to 30 years and there are charges that we levy the customer and despite all those measures we are finding customers still doing that," he said.

Eng Shereni said ZETDC has come up with several strategies to prevent electricity theft.

He said those who steal electricity should understand that other consumers bear the cost for their theft.

Eng Shereni said they had come up with an "intelligent box" to detect electricity theft.

"It's a problem and that is why we are placing meters on the pole so that the meter is not accessible.

We are also using the initiative such as the intelligent box, it's a box that has intelligence which can be monitored remotely so that when a customer tampers with it, it will report back.

Some will be ground mounted, some will be pole mounted and some will be wall mounted.

There are various designs and as for the intelligent box, it will house up to 12 or so meters.

So, using one box we will be able to monitor 12 meters," he said.

Monitoring of 12 meters will be equivalent to monitoring of 12 houses.

Eng Shereni said there is a need to educate electricity consumers about the risks associated with theft of power.

"We are losing revenue which we are supposed to be collecting.

As a power utility, when we look at tariff reviews, we look at all our customers and customers who are paying are actually paying for those who are stealing from the utility.

They are not stealing from us but other customers in essence," said Eng Shereni.

Government is in the process of amending existing laws to punish those who vandalise electricity infrastructure.

While theft of copper cables and vandalism of transformers is rampant and its impact is widespread, the theft of electricity at home will also attract similar fines.

At the moment there is a mandatory nine-year sentence for those who tamper or abuse power infrastructure but Government wants those convicted to face a 30-year mandatory sentence.

Source - The Chronicle
More on: #Zesa, #Power, #Theft