By Felex Share
Residents should not pay anything to Zesa technicians installing new prepaid meter in their houses, Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma has said. He said it is a criminal offence for the technicians to demand money or refuse to install prepaid pre-paid meters at households.
This comes in the wake of reports that some technicians were ordering residents to first pay half of their outstanding bills before receiving the meters. In some instances, the technicians reportedly demand money for the meters, which are installed for free.
“This is against Government policy. We have stated that the meters are for free and no one should charge anything for that. There is an agreed position on how the outstanding bills will be cleared and I see no reason why one should go against the policy. It is an offence for one to do so and we are going to put strict supervision,” he said.
When the prepaid meters were launched two weeks ago, it was agreed that residents disconnected for non-payment of electricity bills would be connected to the smart meters without paying a down payment or reconnection fee. Zesa will deduct 20 percent on the amount paid for electricity on pre-paid meters for the consumers to settle the debts.
“This is a system beneficiary to Zesa and the residents and should not be abused,” Minister Mangoma said.
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri, said the power utility had installed 9 578 meters in Harare since the launch of the programme. This is in addition to the 19 000 meters installed before the official launch.
“Solahart has installed 3 559 meters, Finmark has installed 1 606 meters while ZTDC has installed 4 411 metres. The areas covered include the Avenues, Belvedere and Malbereign. People should also note that the same meters are being installed in Bulawayo,” he said.
Eng Chinembiri said the other two companies ZTE and Nyamazela of South Africa were yet to deliver their meters. “We have instructed officials to check with them because we need more meters to cover many households,” he said.
The programme is targeting 600 000 registered customers and is expected to be complete within 10 months. Zesa has also stopped disconnecting domestic and commercial customers pending the installation of pre-paid meters. The new pre-paid meter system will see consumers taking complete control of their electricity bills.
The pre-paid meters replace the conventional billing system that had posed challenges to the power utility and the consumers. Meanwhile, Eng Chinembiri said Zimbabwe’s US$76 million debt to Mozambique would be cleared by the end of September. The Herald