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Brace for prepaid system shutdown: Zesa

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By Silas Nkala

POWER utility Zesa  Holdings has warned customers that its pre-paid electricity vending system will be down from today going into the New Year  for scheduled annual maintenance.

In a statement yesterday,  the  power utility said the maintenance is to ensure the efficiency of the vending system.

“Zesa Holdings would like to advise its valued customers countrywide that the prepaid electricity vending system will not be available on December 31 2021 at 1700hrs to January 1 2022 at 0600hrs to facilitate scheduled annual maintenance. The scheduled maintenance is meant to ensure the integrity and reliability of the prepaid electricity vending system for continued efficient service delivery,” the company said.

“The power utility advises customers to purchase adequate electricity to ensure that they do not run out of credit during the maintenance period. The inconvenience caused is sincerely regretted. It is advised that consumers buy their electricity in time to avoid spending New Year’s eve in the dark.”

Meanwhile, Zesa’s southern region manager Lovemore Chinaka has revealed that the current tariffs are woefully inadequate to  absorb  the power utility’s running costs, including replacing vandalised infrastructure.

Zesa last increased its tariffs in May by 30%citing an unstable exchange rate and inflation.

“Tariffs have  no room for replacement of vandalised assets. Things aren’t normal for the utility. We are operating with 35% of vehicle requirements and have to be assisted by customers. The current tariff does not have a capital development portion,” Chinaka said during a virtual meeting organised by the National Consumer Rights Association to discuss energy issues on Tuesday.

“The elements covered by the tariff are already suffering because money keeps going towards replacement of vandalised infrastructure. Imagine what could have been done with the resources used to replace vandalised infrastructure.

In 2011, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry successfully challenged Zesa’s proposed tariff increase in the Administrative Court.

Zesa refused to budge and appealed a ruling against it.

The Sydney Gata-led Zesa Holdings has faced a number of challenges that has crippled its operations. This includes ageing and dilapidated infrastructure, foreign currency shortage,  uncompetitive tariff structures and debt to regional electricity suppliers such as South Africa power utility Eskom.

It recently announced a load-shedding programme pointing to some of these challenges as the reason for the power outages. The power cuts have had a devastating impact on business operations with  the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce revealing that the  power outages have increased the cost of doing business by 150%.

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