Zimbabwe’s power utility, ZESA Holdings Limited, says it would embark on a programme to replace power cables on its vast network after losing $14.2 million through vandalism over the past five years.
Despite the closure of copper mines, including the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation’s Mhangura in the late 1990s, the country has witnessed significant illegal shipment of cables to the export markets.
The bulk of these cables have been stolen from state run institutions such as fixed line phone network provider TelOne and ZESA Holdings. The cables are traded on the black markets outside the country.
Two weeks ago, police bust a copper smuggling syndicate at the busy Beitbridge border post following a tipoff. They recovered several tones of cables stashed in a haulage truck container.
In documents obtained by The Source at the ongoing Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe annual general meeting, ZESA said it was considering replacing copper cables with other metals, which are not prone to theft and vandalism.
“In mitigation we are replacing all copper cables, conductors with aluminium cables which have better transmission of electricity, but with limited other uses,” it said.
The documents indicate that the parastatal had lost $4.6 million worth of power cables through vandalism in 2011, $2.9 million in 2012, $2.3 million in 2013, $2.9 million in 2014 and $1.3 million last year.
“The replacement of cables is an ongoing exercise in an attempt curb this vice,” ZESA said, noting that the power company was also taking steps to deal with another problem involving the stealing of transformer oils in its plants.
“We are looking at new technology that has come through, which involves new properties in transformer oils, which if used for any other purposes other than transformers will damage engines,” ZESA said.-The Source