MERGING facts and figures show proof of wide- spread power theft and sabotage on the entire Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANES- CO) infrastructure, causing unnecessary incon- veniences to consumers.
When winding up budget estimates of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo mentioned some private institutions, including schools, a bank and hotel which had consumed power illegally, ranging be- tween 10m/- to 25m/-.A couple of days later, TANESCO board of directors suspended the power utility company's top management, pending investigations into allegations of embezzle- ment and abuse of office, that had incurred the company losses amounting to billions of shillings.
Recently, TANESCO's department of security revealed and continues to uncover massive power theft in the city of Dar es Salaam.On Thursday, for example, TANESCO's Kinondoni Regional Security Officer, Ms Dunia Shani said a city resident was found in possession of a heap of Luku (pre- paid) cards in his car and wallet. Some of the cards were discovered in his house from which he had been selling to unsuspecting customers.
The cost of the cards could not easily be determined as they were not in TANESCO's information system.This means they were fake altogether.The illegal Luku vendor suspect was also found in possession of a list of 80 Luku numbers, unsealed line and a bypass metre, not supposed to be in Kinondoni region.
Never mind the proper names of those devices being recovered from power theft suspects. Our major concern is the fact that the economic sabotage has been going on for too long and to some of the residents of Dar es Sa- laam, this is 'normal practice.'Many people, including the well to-do, have been steal- ing power and because of laxity perhaps, in TANESCO's monitoring system, the malpractice has been embraced as a fact of life.
Power theft has shamelessly made people so numb that even when TANESCO launched a crackdown, it did not cause panic on the part of the saboteurs.
For their efforts to nab power thieves, TANESCO de- serves a pat on the back. It is also commendable that the security department is carrying out this exercise in a transparent manner. By using the media to expose the names of the wrongdoers, the power company is doing a commendable job.
It should never relent until the last shilling that is being stolen in the name of power theft is recovered.It is also worth mentioning that those intermittent power cuts are disappearing and might soon be a thing of the past, if the current trend is anything to go by. At least customers have enjoyed a stable supply of power and that is one more thing TANESCO should be proud of.
To the general public, we would like to say that there is need to remember that sabotaging the company, gradu- ally kills the country's economy. No one, including the saboteurs themselves will triumph when TANESCO limps and fails to stand firm on its feet.