City residents have raised their concerns over exposed ZESA cables in the capital and have urged the power utility company to cover all the electricity wires that are exposed.
Considerable proportions of the underground cables have outlived their lifespan and are often dug up for repairs. Frequently ZESA staff leaves the cables uncovered, putting people at risk of electrocution.
A domestic worker at Earls Court (corner of Prince Edward Street and Fife Avenue) who identified herself only as Melody, said the authorities should strive to cover exposed cables whenever they dig them up to avoid unnecessary accidents. There is a neglected ditch with exposed cables just a stone’s throw away from Earls Court.
“The issue of abandoned exposed cables is a scary one. There is one ditch with some exposed wires just over there (along Prince Edward Street) which was deserted some time back. This poses a danger to pedestrians, particularly children who might not read the warning sign that is there or tamper with the wires innocently. I have seen that people have been throwing rubbish into the ditch and this could entice children to look through the garbage and could have fatal consequences,” said Melody.
Tafadzwa Fani, an auto-electrician, echoed these sentiments saying it was vital for the power company to replace the old cables or cover them where necessary to prevent people being burned or killed. “It is dangerous and reckless to leave wires exposed because when a live wire cable touches the ground, especially during the rainy season, the surrounding ground becomes charged and very unsafe,” said Fani.
He also advised people to cut trees that might come in contact with electricity cables as they have potential to be dangerous if the fall on the wires.
“It is always best to ask for permission from the authorities to cut trees that might bring down cables. On windy days trees fall and if a charged cable fall it might endanger lives.” he said.
Another resident, Tendai Chiunye, who lives in Milton Park, sought to exonerate Zesa saying it was trying its level best but operating in very tough circumstances. “I honestly think the power utility company is trying its best albeit in a very difficult economic situation. I want to see world class service but I am aware of the environment we are operating in as a country. There is the problem of liquidity and people are reluctant to pay their bills and that weigh down on ZESA. People should own up and pay their bills. I suppose defaulters are partly culpable in any poor service delivery situation,” said Chiunye.
ZESA claims to be owed hundreds of millions by defaulters in unpaid bills. There have been outrages in the past over press reports on unpaid bills running into hundreds of thousands of dollars by individuals, government officials, the government itself and local authorities. What seems to irk many residents is the haste by the power utility to disconnect individuals with very small amounts and yet very few if any, of the reported top officials in large debts, have seen their electricity service cut off.
Efforts to get a comment from the ZESA Communications Manager Fullard Gwasira were futile as he was not answering his phone at the time of going to print.