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Byo residents fume over weeklong power outage

Residents in Bulawayo’s New Magwegwe suburb have gone for five days without electricity, a situation they described as catastrophic as they have no access to other alternative sources of power due to the national lockdown.

The COVID-19 pandemic which has claimed thousands of lives across the globe, has affected 10 people in Zimbabwe, with one death recorded.

The residents said in the past two weeks’ personnel from the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) have been taking down copper cables, replacing them with aluminium ones.

In an interview with CITE, Stanley Makuti, a resident, said people from ZETDC informed them that they were working on a project of removing copper cables and replacing them with aluminium ones due to the rising copper-cable theft cases.

“They said due to theft, they wanted to change from copper cables to aluminium ones. Two weeks ago they came and in no time electricity was up again. However, this time we do not know what went wrong,” said Makuti.

“Electricity was cut on Wednesday around 11pm and in the morning on Thursday they came to remove copper cables. We thought this was in line with the project they had told us about before but it’s been five days now without power and there is no communication on why we still don’t have power.”

Makuti said on several occasions the residents have tried to contact ZETDC on their customer care numbers without much success.

He noted that they are now running out of resources to cook with as there are no vendors selling firewood and most of the places selling gas in their area are closed.

“People are now stranded. The few that had gas are now running out and those relying on fire are also stuck as there are no people selling it around. Getting into town to buy gas is also a struggle as police are manning roadblocks and restricting movement of people,” Makuti said.

Minister of Energy and Power Development Advocate Fortune Chasi said ZETDC had erred by removing the copper cables when lockdown period had already started.

“Although I am not fully aware of the specific details of the project, the copper cables were not supposed to be removed at a time when most businesses are closed and companies have downsized due to a pandemic that has struck,” said the minister.

“They were supposed to wait until after the lockdown. I will be in touch with the general manager and ensure that the situation is rectified.”

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