REPORTS of unknown people vandalizing a 330KV Zesco transmission tower, between the Kabwe Stepdown Sub-station and the Luano Sub-Station, in Central Province, makes sad reading.
It’s sad because this is the main transmission line supplying the bulk of power to the Copperbelt and North Western Provinces, and it is happening at a time when our nation is grappling with problem of power supply.
The cost of the damage, estimated at K1.3 million, is also another source of great concern because obviously, as a nation, we cannot afford to be spending money on repairing vandalized installations every time because we need those funds to invest in other areas aimed at improving people’s lives.
The vandalism of the Kabwe Zesco installation comes barely months after some unknown people tampered with the major cables that supplies power to Mushili, Kansenshi and surrounding areas, leaving more than 10, 000 customers in darkness in Ndola.
Earlier on, some people believed to be thieves, brought down two Zesco pylons on the 330-kilovolt transmission line running from Kafue West to the Lusaka West Substation via the South Multi-Facility Economic Zone, while unknown persons later on vandalized another high voltage power transmission line in the Dundumwezi area of Kalomo District.
Just why some people should choose to vandalise national assets, like electricity installations, and intentionally inconvenience the entire nation through subjecting people to unnecessary power outages and unplanned expenses, is the biggest question.
What is also worrisome is the fact that the vandalism acts, especially targeted at high voltage power transmission lines, have become rampant and seemingly deliberate.
We are not drawing any conclusions, but the acts do not appear to be coincidental but deliberately and obviously aimed at creating some confusion and destabilizing the normal activities in the nation. What exactly the people behind such heinous acts are out to achieve we cannot know.
What we are certain about is the fact that this lawlessness should be condemned and must be immediately stopped because it is retrogressive and a drawback to national development.
Our desire, as a country, is to attain progressive development in all sectors of the economy and we cannot afford to be spending our hard-earned resources on repairing and replacing vandalized infrastructure instead of putting it to good use in other areas that require development.
The acts in themselves, of vandalism to power infrastructure, pose a very high risk to the nation. Other than disturbing business operations, and normal human activities, tempering with power supply systems also have the potential to cause sudden and avoidable deaths in health care institutions through sudden power outages.
There is no doubt that disturbances to energy supply facilities also have serious consequences on the country’s economy as the operations of industries are seriously affected. Some companies are unable to meet production targets and may, as a result, consider cutting down on staffing levels.
It is therefore prudent for Zesco to work with various security wings to immediately stop the vandalisation of power infrastructure because this problem would not end for as long as the culprits are not known and are not severely dealt with.
Let Zesco spend its constricted revenue on improving its service delivery rather than grapple with how to replace the vandalized infrastructure.