Energy secretary quizzed over transformers

LEGISLATORS on Tuesday expressed concern over Zesa subsidiary, Zesa Enterprises (Zent)’s failure to repair broken down electricity transformers or replace stolen ones, resulting in some areas going for years without electricity.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

MPs raised the issue of vandalism of transformers and lack of replacements or repair when Energy ministry secretary Gloria Magombo appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy to speak on the 2019 budgetary allocations to the ministry.

“Some funding has been allocated for transformers because we had about 1 600 transformers that had been vandalised, and currently, we are targeting that 4 000 should have been purchased by the end of the first quarter next year,” Magombo said.

“We have already gone to tender for an additional 2 000 transformers and Zent was going to manufacture the 2 000 transformers,” she said.

Magombo said Zent has the capacity to manufacture 450 transformers per month.

“While we are looking at installing 4 000 transformers, we actually need more than that because we are not looking at the needs for Zesa only, but rural electrification, farming and other communities that need transformers,” she said.

MPs alleged transformers were vandalised or stolen by people with the technical knowhow to dislodge them, particularly Zesa technicians, adding that the Energy ministry was not doing enough to protect its infrastructure like mobile operators whose security was tight.

“We train electricians, but unfortunately, some of them are criminals. We have to ensure there are stiffer penalties for vandalism of infrastructure which is 10 years by putting alarm systems. What we need to deal with is the mindset of our people that they cannot steal a transformer to sell it for $200 when it costs $10 000 to replace,” Magombo said.

She said foreign currency challenges hindered Zent from procuring materials to assemble transformers, but they had the capacity to manufacture them and even export to countries like Mozambique.

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