Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
Residents in Bulawayo’s eastern suburbs have resorted to hiring security guards to patrol at night in a bid to stop electricity cable theft.
In suburbs such as Kingsdale, Famona, Hillcrest and Hillside, residents have been living in the dark following the theft of cables.
Thieves have been wreaking havoc in Zimbabwe, targeting Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company (ZETDC) copper cables and transformers, plunging suburbs in darkness for days or months on end.
It seems the situation is continuing unabated and kilometres are being stolen every week.
Residents who spoke to Chronicle said it was worrying that cables over two kilometres long can be cut and transported by truck without being detected.
Mr Thembinkosi Msipha from Famona said two weeks ago at around 3AM, he was woken by barking dogs and when he investigated, he found that thieves had cut copper cables.
He said residents tried in vain to call the police to come to the scene.
“We tried all the numbers from Central and Hillside police and it was only at Mzilikazi where the phone was picked up. However, they couldn’t come. Then we couldn’t stand outside, because it was raining and it seems the thieves came and took their loot,” said Mr Msipha.
He said in neighbouring Hillcrest suburb, thieves stole cables and when they were replaced, they were stolen again a few days later.
Mr Msipha called on the police to help residents get rid of copper cable thieves.
“What worries us is that this is happening during curfew hours and why are people roaming around during this time. When we take things in our hands, we might be breaking the law. We plead with the police to please help us to rid the community of this scourge,” said Mr Msipha.
“When we report the stolen cables, the people from Zesa come and then they take your number, like what they did with me and say there will be a person who will come and measure. Until today I’m still waiting for that person to come.”
In Hillside, residents have had no power for the past month after cables were stolen. They are hoping that power will be restored tomorrow after they raised the money to buy cables.
The residents formed a WhatsApp group and donated about US$30 each.
A resident in the suburb, who declined to be named, said some donated more, while some donated less and others could not.
Having no electricity for a long time, the resident said, has caused him to use US$15 per day on fuel for his generator to light the house, pump the borehole and water the garden.
Residents in the area are in agreement to have a regular patrol team to try to curb this power cable theft.
“They are talking about each household putting a dollar a month for roaming guards or a mobile unit to call upon when suspicious vehicles are spotted. Whatever it is they decide on I will support if it brings an end to all this.
“Its 10 days now of paying US$15 a day on diesel for my generator. So, my payment of US$40 towards the cable yesterday and paying a dollar or US$2 a month going forward is a no brainer. I’ll do it. We as the people, the community have to sort ourselves out, we have no choice.
If we waited on ZETDC we might have waited a few months till power was restored as we have heard of places that went two to three months with no power,” said the resident.
In Kingsdale, it has been five months without electricity in some areas and residents mobilised to buy a total of 2 700 metres of cables, but they complain that ZETDC employees are changing goal posts when they want the cables installed.
“The cables were stolen and we weren’t told how many metres were stolen. However, the Zesa people told us to buy 1 200 metres of cable and we did and they were installed. After the installation we were told that was not enough, and we were told to buy another 1 350 metres and we bought.
“It took some time, because some residents were having difficulties securing the money for the contributions.
However, they are now saying to us we still have outstanding metres of which they aren’t telling us how many,” said a resident who asked not to be named.
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Article Source: The Chronicle