As government drags feet in dealing with vandalism
MASERU – While the Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) is struggling to deal with theft and vandalism of electrical cables across the country, the government seems to be putting more effort on launching new electrification projects than tackling the scourge of theft.
LEC is 100 percent government-owned and was established to supply environmentally friendly electricity to the people of Lesotho. In June this year, LEC declared the loss of millions of maloti through vandalism of electrical cables among other things.
The utility company has sought assistance from other government agencies in an effort to put the matter to bed. Among other things, distribution transformers are being vandalised for their copper windings while cables are stolen and eventually find their way into the market.
“We are working tirelessly to try and deal with these issues. But at the same time we are expecting law enforcement agencies such as police and courts to also come to the party and help us put on hold this form of crime,” LEC Public Relations Manager, Makhetha Motšoari, said in an interview on Tuesday this week.
The government, though its relevant agencies, seems reluctant to deal with the matter as an emergency but at the same time continues to launch more electricity projects that may subsequently be impacted by the same challenges that have seen the utility company losing an estimated M21 million annually.
In June, LEC declared, and not for the first time, that it has been plunged in financial disarray as a result of property and copper theft that keeps on spiking each year. The impact of vandalism is then easily passed on to the consumers, thereby negatively impacting the economy.
Motšoari said among other measures, LEC is holding public gatherings in different villages to create awareness on the matter. He gave an example of a person who was killed by members of the community in Mazenod recently, after he was accused of stealing electrical cables.
“People are now aware of this form of crime and we continue spreading the message through different platforms going forward. Community members should also help us in protecting their property,” he added.
Last week Friday, Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro and his entourage launched the electrification project financed through the Universal Access Fund (UAF) in Ha Rakobeli and Ha Arone areas.
The funding of the project was approved by the Lesotho Electricity and Water Authority (LEWA), a body that regulates electricity, urban water and sewerage services. The costs were M4 291 283.03 for Ha Rakobeli and M8 961 874.74 for Ha Arone. Dr Majoro said in Ha Arone, 331 families representing five villages are going to benefit from the project.
“We have given the contractor only 30 weeks (seven months) to complete the project. That means in May next year, the project should be completed and the people in these villages will be able to start using their electricity,” Majoro said during the launch on Friday.
The tender for this project has been awarded to Ramajake Thulo through his company, JR Holdings. Dr Majoro hailed the company, urging it to ensure that the residents of the surrounding areas further benefit through the short-term employment throughout the project.