Erongo Red Plagued By Copper Wire Theft

The regional electricity distributor’s media spokesman, Benjamin Nangombe, confirmed the theft describing it as a “serious problem”.

“The sustained copper wire theft results in significant damage to electrical infrastructure and networks. Depending on the nature and extent of the damage, Erongo RED is also forced to shut down the affected substation to do repair work which can result in other electricity users being deprived as they have to wait for hours before the repair work is completed,” he said.

Replacing copper bars and conductors can take five to 10 hours and during this time the area feeding from the affected substation will be without power.

Over the last three years, the direct loss incurred was nearly N$1 million, according to Nangombe, who further said there are also indirect losses which run into thousands of dollars due to unserved energy cost and secondary losses to customer equipment.

Nangombe also said the theft of power cables and copper conductor bars also increases the operating cost, as unnecessary expenses are incurred on repairing a damaged network.

In addition, he said the theft of earthing bars creates a potentially life threatening situation as it renders some of the electrical protection devices useless.

“Copper is very expensive and the cost varies each month depending on the nature and the extent of the damage,” he said.

The most targeted areas are substations in less densely populated areas and substations in remote areas such as the Omdel substation which powers the water scheme between Swakopmund and Henties Bay.

Similarly, substations in small towns such as Karibib and Omaruru are also targeted, as well as unoccupied new land developments, he said.

In fact, about a month ago, the Omdel substation was targeted and 80% of the earthing wire was stripped off.

In Omaruru, cables at an unoccupied land development was also stolen.

The culprits are evasive though.

“We do not know who the culprits are, however, we know that these people sell stolen copper wire to scrap metal dealers who are eager to buy the copper for its high lucrativeness,” said Nangombe.

Nangombe said Erongo RED has put “some” security measures in place, however, “the cable thieves just know how to get around and get what they want”.

“We urge the general public to report any acts of vandalism on our electricity infrastructure at our offices or the nearest police station. Incentives are offered for any tip-offs that lead to apprehension,” he said.

Tampering with Erongo RED’s infrastructure is a criminal offence and may result in imprisonment if perpetrators are found guilty.

Vandalism or theft on electrical infrastructure can create life threatening situations to anyone who comes into contact or is connected to such vandalised infrastructure.

Removing cables and busbars is risky and the effect could be deadly to those involved in copper theft.

Removing of copper bars and copper conductors can cause the voltage to raise and thus put appliances such as television sets, refrigerators and radios at risk.

It can also disrupt supply to other essential service providers such as schools, banks and hospitals.

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Source : The Namibian