Moses Makwaya- Shibuyunji Central Province, Zambia
The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) in Zambia have experienced vandalism on their infrastructure where vandals cut conductors from poll lines and steal them.
Recently, a theft occurred in a week on consecutive days in Shibuyunji district, Central Province which has affected over 4000 people and 28 public facilities.
The community in Munyati and Shamilimo area will have to wait for a while to have access to electricity. The Rural Electrification Authority (REA) project supervising engineer William Chanda says the authority was undertaking a project in Munyati and Shamilimo area to provide power connectivity to the local residents.
“The project was initiated in July and completed in November 2020 at a cost of about USD $137,000 (K2.3 million) under a collaboration effort between REA and Copperbelt Development Foundation Limited.”
“This project was completed a long time ago and there was just some logistics which we wanted to finalize with Zesco so that we connect to the existing [power] line,” Mr Chanda said.William Chanda
He added that 3045 metres of conductor was stolen, which will cost about USD $4,100 (K70,000) to be replaced, because one meter of the conductor is equivalent to US$ 1.29 current market price.
REA senior community development officer, Vijue Moonga was encourage by the cooperation between the community and the police to capture the perpetrators. Mr Moonga cautioned perpetrators that they should decease from the vice as the long arm of the law will catch up with them “At the moment there is one criminal in a team of others who has been apprehended. He is the one helping police with further investigations and we hope that through this man we are able to follow up the cartel,” Mr Moonga said.
It is alleged that an employee at Zambia’s main utility company ZESCO has been involved in the stealing of conductors.
The Shibuyinji Council Chairperson Adrian Mwanakanyimba said the vandalism is a big draw back towards development in the area because it will hinder medical health operations which can only be made available with electricity.
Headman Chikumbe Obster Shalupa said the the acts of vandalism in the area started as early as April but it was only halted when the community came together and started patrolling the area. Mr Shalupa said they apprehended one criminal in the act around midnight and four am in the morning hours. “We got close to a vehicle which we were closely monitoring, only to find that it was carrying the cables [conductors]. We managed to apprehend one person. He said his name is Valentine Kangwa,” Mr Shalupa said.
Munyati Primary School deputy head teacher Titus Musukwa was disheartened by the acts of vandalism stating that the act will affect pupils who are set to use the computers for their practical exams in June.
“At the moment we are stuck. The solar cannot do much, hence we are limited in conducting the exams. Furthermore, there will be a lot of money that will be need if we were to use a generator because fuel is expensive,” Mr Musukwa added that aside from the conductors stolen in the area, the power cable at the school and teachers’ houses were also tempered with.