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Funeral parlours switch to alternative power to stay in business

Local News
Doves Funeral Group

TO deal with problems brought by debilitating power outages in the country, funeral parlours have now switched to use of solar energy and generators to preserve bodies.

Doves Funeral Group spokesperson Innocent Tshuma told NewsDay Weekender that incessant power outages have affected funeral parlours, which has now forced them to resort to alternative power sources other than electricity.

“Being in existence for over 120 years has allowed us to prepare adequately to provide for unparalleled seamless service in our industry. The preparation allows us to operate in any given environment as we have alternative redundancy power sources such as solar and generators in our wide branch network,” Tshuma said.

“We have also adopted the use of chemicals that preserve bodies for a longer time.  Our state of the art mortuaries allow us to have the country’s largest holding capacity combined with the best industry practices.  Our agile and committed work force use appropriate and approved chemicals which increase preservation.  In turn this provides peace of mind to our clients that are assured that they will get a dignified send off to their loved ones,” he said.

Funeral Directors Association of Zimbabwe (FUDAZ) president, and general secretary of Old Mutual, Japhet Nyamuchengwa said electricity is pivotal in the whole funeral value chain.

“Most family funeral businesses cannot afford to install alternative power like solar systems.  Electricity is essential in the whole funeral value chain from body removals, mortuary fridges, and casket manufacturing and chapel services. As you may be aware, the majority of players in this space are small businesses; mostly family businesses who cannot afford installation of solar or off solar systems to avoid bodies rotting.  Decomposition of bodies has a negative effect to the funeral business.

“From previous reports; one can conclude that decomposition of bodies has had severe effects to businesses which include undesirable customer experiences and even litigation.  We have a few casket manufacturing plants that can produce quality caskets, and power blackouts lead to unsustainable stock levels and put pressure on the manufacturers to come up with products that can preserve bodies well.  Body removals are difficult to do in the absence of power as we need to identify bodies in the public mortuaries, “Nyamuchengwa said.

He said without electricity at hospital mortuaries and funeral parlours, people that work there are placed at high risk of catching unwanted diseases.

“The shortage of electricity poses a health hazard to the funeral players because it is difficult to keep good hygiene. A chapel service is essential for identification and it is a requirement. Without power, the purpose of a chapel service is compromised,” he said.

Due to the prolonged 22 hour load shedding schedules, most businesses in the country, including funeral parlours were affected as bodies were rotting.

Last year, Victoria Chitepo Hospital in Mutare was reportedly experiencing a situation where bodies were rotting due to mortuary cold room failures.

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