By Mbekezeli Ncube
Maphisa: There was relief in this Matabeleland South when electricity was restored this past week after nearly 10 months of blackout.
The area and its surroundings last had electricity in August last year.
This was after the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) had reported the theft of 42 spans (seven kilometres) of copper cables, plunging residents into nearly a year of total blackout.
The crisis also threatened several Business Centres such as Homestead, Tshelanyemba, Valley Irrigation, Makwe Irrigation, Mphoengs Border Post, Mayobodo, Cross Roads.
Electricity is also used to power water pumps in affected areas.
After the theft, the energy ministry, working with ZESA, Agricultural Rural Development Association (Antelope) and the Rural Electrification Agency opted to replace the entire 65 kilometre copper powerline, restringing it with aluminium conductor.
Minister Fortune Chasi confirmed the initiative but said more still had to be done to ensure power was fully restored in the area.
“Power supplies to Maphisa and surrounding areas were switched on yesterday morning following the completion and commissioning of the new line.
“Work is underway on the remaining line to the irrigation schemes.
“We are very delighted at the fact that we have been able to restore power to Maphisa, the shopping centre, the hospital, the irrigation schemes had all ground to a halt.
“We have spent significant amounts of money which could have gone towards connecting new clients, but this is a repeat job because some people decided to fatten their pockets.
“This is a case that demonstrates the disaster that is being imposed on the country by those sabotaging the country by stealing cable and transformers,” said Chasi, whose ministry is sponsoring a Bill seeking a mandatory 30-year jail sentence on those caught stealing electricity infrastructure.
The minister said he will soon visit Maphisa to satisfy himself that all the issues that had risen as a result of the destruction of the infrastructure has been sorted.