Villagers destroying electricity pylons to make donkey carts

12 Aug 2013 13:10
OPUWO, 12 AUG (NAMPA) – NamPower has had to spend about N.dollars 500 000 on replacing cross braces stolen from electricity pylons in the Omakange area by villagers, who used the metal to amongst other things make donkey carts.
Omakange is situated some 55 kilometres (km) south of Opuwo.
The cross braces provided support for the pylons of the 330 kilovolt (KV) Ruacana-Omburu power line.
The damage was discovered during an inspection done by the national power utility on the line in July this year, which found that 311 cross braces were stolen from more than 40 pylons.
According to NamPower Area Manager Petrus Shovaleka, the company had to act swiftly to replace the missing cross braces to ensure that the pylons were not vulnerable to wind and to avoid the possible collapse of the infrastructure.
“Rundu and other surrounding areas had to go without electricity for a week after a similar incident saw four pylons collapse due to stolen cross braces early this year,” Shovaleka noted in an interview with Nampa on Saturday.
He explained that the Ruacana-Omburo power line is the only line which supplies the electricity that is produced at the Ruacana hydro-power station, and if this particular line collapses, the whole Namibia will be left without a power supply.
“Given the shortage of electricity in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), if NamPower had to import electricity from South Africa in case of the main line being affected, NamP would have to pay between N.dollars 750 000 and N.dollars 1 million per hour for electricity,” said Shovaleka. He noted that the power line is inspected twice a year - before and after the rainy season.
The Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Regional Commander for the Omusati Region, Shinedima Shindinge called on Namibians to protect State facilities from vandalism and report people whom they suspect of vandalising State property.
Shindinge was speaking on Friday at Omakange village, during a mission to arrest and collect cross braces stolen from pylons in the Omusati Region.
At least five villagers from Otjindjumba village about 115km south of Opuwo were arrested on Thursday in connection with the stolen cross braces.
He said NamPower reported the theft to his office on Wednesday, which sparked great concern as a power outage throughout the country would amongst other things cause chaos in different sectors of the Namibian economy.
The cross braces are used by community members to make donkey carts, beds, door frames and other iron products used by villagers.
Five donkey carts made from the stolen cross braces were also confiscated by the police on Thursday.
Shindinge said the community members’ actions are indicative of “the highest degree of ignorance and sabotage of the country’s way towards economic advancement, which is very dangerous”.
Shovaleka indicated that NamPower will embark on a big campaign in the villages involved in these acts of vandalism to educate the community about the importance, and danger, of electricity “very soon”.
“We are in consultation with our marketing department to develop materials in the vernaculars spoken in those villages in order to spread the message amongst communities which might not have radios or television, where most NamPower campaigns are aired regularly,” he noted.