Home » Industry » SPB Blocks Zesa On Meters

The State Procurement Board has blocked Zesa Holdings from buying 30 000 prepaid meters directly from companies that have them, telling the power utility to wait for a running tender floated recently.

The tender board gave Zesa the green light to buy only 2 700 units for faulty maintenance until finalisation of the tender. The move will likely promote the black market as already some contractors are working in cahoots with Zesa employees to charge desperate customers between $300 and $500 to install the units.

Zesa ran out of the meters and floated a tender for an additional 150 000 units to cater for new connections and fault meters, a process which might be completed in September basing on the standard lead times for meters.

As a stop gap measure, the power utility wanted to directly buy 30 000 meters from their initial contractors at a cost of $2 million. The initial contractors-Solahart, Finmark and Nyamazela of South Africa were contracted to install 500 000 meters and have completed their task.

Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira yesterday confirmed that their bid had been rejected by the SPB.

“Of the 30 000 meters which we sought permission from the SPB to supply prepaid meters, approval was granted for 2 700 which will be used largely for routine maintenance and the replacement of faulty meters,” he said.

Zesa has more than 4 000 faulty meters and 80 000 uninstalled points in Harare and the western region.

Mr Gwasira said 32 companies submitted their bids for the 150 000 prepaid meter tender that closed on June 9.

Only four companies will be shortlisted.

“It is for the lowest technically compliant and competitive bid, as we do not pay cash up front,” he said.

“As we have run out of the units waiting for the tender, Zesa wishes to remind customers that pre-paid meters are currently being installed for free and should report to the police or Zesa any unscrupulous personnel or contractor demanding payment.”

Some new customers are reportedly connecting themselves illegally on the power utility’s network with Zesa pocketing nothing. Mr Gwasira said they were fine tuning specifications for smart meters with a pilot project expected before year end.

Expectations are that the smart metering technology, which reports to the centre any meter by-passing, would curb power theft and increase revenue generation as compared to prepaid meters

Delays in implementing the smart metering technology were caused by former Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire who had inflated the tender to 300 000 units fully aware that there were not more than 60 000 points in need of such units.

Zesa has installed more than 537 000 pre-paid meters countrywide since 2011 against a target of 800 000 meters espoused in the Government economic blue print, Zim-Asset.

Source : The Herald