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Criminals vandalising Gweru water pipes looking for copper.

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Some criminals are vandalising water pipes looking for copper telephone lines they believe run in the pipes, a Gweru City Council official has revealed.

The city has of late been experiencing several water pipe bursts with one site, in particular, being at the Gweru River bridge along the Bulawayo – Harare highway.

Speaking at a meeting with residents and civil society organisations, Gweru City Council Engineering Services Director Engineer Praymore Mhlanga said the council has been attending to such pipe bursts where criminals vandalise water pipes in search of copper cables.

“The issue of the Gweru River pipe, that pipe is being vandalised by people who think there are copper cables belonging to PTC (now Telone), so it’s actually PTC that is losing its property.”

Mhlanga said the vandalism was giving the council a headache as they have to fix the burst pipe frequently.

“So that is the problem we have of vandalism of pipes by people looking for copper and as you know because the economy is bad some people have become very daring. We don’t know what to do but probably we will just continue repairing it hoping that the criminals will realise that there is no copper in those pipes,” he added.

The illegal trade of copper is rampant in Zimbabwe and the government is pushing for a mandatory jail sentence of not less than 30 years. The cabinet in March this year approved the Copper Control Amendment Bill makes it illegal for any person to possess copper without a certificate of origin for that copper.

Speaking at the same meeting, Gweru City Council Finance Committee chairperson Cllr Martin Chivhoko said the council has paid ZESA ZWL$5.9m to install a transformer at Gwenhoro water pump station, after purchasing it at ZWL$5.8m.

“I am sure you remember that we bought three high lift pumps to pump water from the treatment plant to the city. Unfortunately, the transformer which was there was not compatible with the high lift pumps so we bought another transformer and we paid ZESA to install it. We bought it (transformer) at ZWL$5.8m and ZESA charged us ZWL$5.9m just to install it.”

Some residents demanded to know why the council had paid ZWL$5.9m to ZESA to commission the transformer without consulting them.

“As residents, we want to understand how as council you decided to pay ZESA that exorbitant amount without telling us first. We could have engaged ZESA to demand it to lower that amount,” one resident said.

Another resident said they were going to draw up a petition to hand over to the power utility demanding that it reviews the commissioning fee downwards.

The meeting, dubbed Accountability Dialogue on Public Resource Management, was hosted by Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD). A ZIMCODD official Tashinga Zamba said residents should track and monitor service delivery by local authorities in order to promote accountability and transparency.

“You need to take these councillors to task for example you track expenditure at the council level. If these guys (councillors) are not doing feedback meetings you demand such meetings. It is important for accountability and policy making,” said Zamba.

Zamba encouraged residents to keep scorecards tracking if Gweru City Council is accomplishing the projects it has included in its budgets.

Local authorities across the country are in the process of formulating budgets for 2022.

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