Residents in some suburbs have resorted to repairing ZESA property themselves due to persistent vandalism. The residents say the move is part of their community responsibility. Rampant vandalism has seen some areas going without electricity for months after the destruction of property like transformers.
A resident of Anhem Drive in Braeside, who has been living in the area for more than 50 years, said the problem of vandalism has been prompted by the fact that the properties are now too run down and can easily be broken into.
Another resident in the area told Harare News that residents had recently refurbished one of ZESA’s transformer sub-stations after a homeless couple, who had been living in the structure, made a fire that damaged the transformer. “This resulted in the loss of power for the community for more than a month. “When these properties are vandalised, it is us residents who suffer, hence the need to take action,” he said.
In Ashdown Park, the sabotage of ZESA equipment has been on the increase. This has prompted Chandimhara Tadokera, Senior Customer Service Officer ZETDC Mabelreign, to call for residents in the area to come together and help secure power sub-stations and transformers in response to increased incidents of damage to the equipment.
In a brief survey by Harare News, some communities in the high density areas of Highfield and Glen Norah have mobilised themselves and have put steel reinforcements around transformers as a form of protection.
According to ZESA, transformers cost over $15,000 and have a lifespan of 25–40 years. Thieves have targeted the metals found in electricity infrastructure, creating a lucrative and thriving market. The criminals’ target is copper and aluminium cable, transformers, transformer oil, miniature circuit breakers (MCBs), high rupturing copper coated aluminium fuses, and nuts and bolts.
Jessie Majome, Member of Parliament for Harare West, which encompasses Ashdown Park, Mabelreign, Marlborough and Avonlea, says the call by Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is sensible in light of the widespread vandalism currently occurring. She says residents need to put their heads together to mitigate the problem and avoid inconveniences that occur after equipment is lost or damaged.
“I support the recent request by the ZETDC Mabelreign for customers to secure base stations and transformers in their communities from increased vandalism and theft as the provider may take long to replace stolen or missing equipment,” said Majome. “The widespread nature of electricity infrastructure makes it difficult for ZESA alone to maintain monitoring at all times,” added Majome, “The approach is for communities to be proactive to secure this equipment from harm.”