4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Prepaid Meter Project Slow, Says ZETDC Boss

ZESA Holdings has installed 55 000 prepaid meters in domestic premises countrywide since August last year as it snails towards covering all its 600 000 customers in the next five months. The power utility has also distributed over 350 000-energy saver bulbs in the last two months.

Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri yesterday acknowledged that the programme was progressing at a slow pace.

"As at December 31, we had covered about 55 000 households countrywide.

"We are installing but the programme is not moving as fast as we would have wanted. Our database has 600 000 who all should have the meters in the next 10 months as per our plans.

"By now we should have covered half of our customer base, but we are still to reach that point."

Eng Chinembiri said the meters were being installed in Harare, Chinhoyi, Bulawayo and Mutare.

"The supply side is fine as the four companies are supplying the meters. The problem is that while some of the prepaid meters are being airlifted, some are coming by sea and they take long to reach us."

The four contracted companies are Solahart, ZTE, Finmark and Nyamazela of South Africa.

He said the cash collection was gradually improving as a result of the prepaid meters.

"There is gradual improvement in terms of cash collection.

"We urge people to settle their bills such that we will be able to carry out our operations and maintenance without hindrance."

Eng Chinembiri said Zesa Holdings has distributed 350 000 energy-saver bulbs for free in Chitungwiza, Bulawayo and Gweru.

The bulbs are part of the one million the power utility recently got from Kgabo Engineers of South Africa.

Zesa plans to install 5,5 million energy-saver bulbs and save up to 200 megawatts daily.

The bulbs, commonly referred to as compact fluorescent lamps, last longer at least 8 000 hours, while an incandescent light bulb lasts for 1 000 hours.

Meanwhile, Eng Chinembiri said the 0,03 percent increase in average electricity tariffs would not significantly affect consumers.

ZERA recently approved an increase of US9,86c kilowatt per hour from US9, 83c.

Zesa had applied for an average tariff increase of US9, 94c kW/h.

"People will not see significant changes from the amounts they were paying," he said.

"Though the approved figure is not what we wanted, it is our hope that we will achieve our targets with the set tariffs."

In coming up with the tariffs, ZERA said the regulatory authority considered consumer concerns requiring fair tariffs.

The regulatory board said the approved tariffs would be enough to cover the power utility's operations and maintenance costs.

The new tariffs would be reviewed quarterly and if necessary, adjusted using the Tariff Indexation Formula.

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