AS the Africa Cup of Nations excitement gripped the nation, while neighbours Congo took on South Africa last Saturday, daring thieves in Lusaka risked electrocution to pilfer Zesco’s underground copper cables and vandalized transformers.
Operating fearlessly in the Eastern part of Lusaka and Chongwe district, they succeeded in multiple areas, including Mutamina village and Silverest Chongwe.
Despite community intervention at Mutamina, damage was done, and Airport area witnessed a successful 30-centimeter high-voltage cable theft.
Responding swiftly to public reports, Zesco officials toured the affected sites, highlighting the financial setback caused by frequent repairs exceeding K24 million annually.
During a tour with journalists yesterday, Zesco’s Head of Corporate Communications, Christo Chitamfya, condemned the acts, emphasizing the impact on residents’ lives, including those in hospitals.
Benny Mwanamakwa, Zesco’s Senior Manager for special duties and investigations, revealed an increase in coordinated, well-sponsored vandalism, with plans to invest over K20 million in smart initiatives to deter vandals.
“In our electronic approaches, we are going to have intruder alarms on most of the installations that are vulnerable to ensure that whenever there is any tempering we get the signals and feeds from cameras that we are going to put on strategic cameras so that we can have evidence that we can peruse individuals found wanting,” said Mwanamakwa.
He added that Zesco security has been equally alert on the ground arresting those who are found guilty, with 137 being arrested just last year of which 122 were convicted.
Vigilant community members, like Rumakiel Nkoma in Choongwe, played a crucial role in thwarting thieves.
Nkoma shared his encounter with four men attempting to dig up Zesco copper cables, highlighting the importance of community involvement in combating such crimes.
Last month, the utility lost 14 Power Transformers from Lusaka alone and made a loss of about K24 Million from vandalism in the same year alone.
By Buumba Mwitumwa
Kalemba February 12, 2024