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LEC launches anti-vandalism campaign

’Mantoetse Maama

LEC staff and members of the Butha-Buthe district council during the electricity  awareness campaign on Wednesday.
LEC staff and members of the Butha-Buthe district council during the electricity
awareness campaign on Wednesday.

THE Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) has embarked on a nationwide awareness campaign, which seeks to educate communities about the need to safeguard electricity infrastructure and also the dangers of vandalising such property.

The campaign was launched in Butha- Buthe on Wednesday last week, with similar public gatherings and engagement of council staff also expected to take place in other parts of the country.
According to the LEC Regional Manager, Tsumane Rapapa, the campaign had been prompted by the relentless vandalism of the company’s property, which was impacting negatively on the power utility.
Speaking at the launch, Mr Rapapa said: “We have invited you to this event in order to ask you to help us fight the problems we are having as the LEC.

People are vandalising LEC property and in addition to depriving communities of electricity, such destruction could be dangerous to human life because, at times, electricity cables are being targeted and as you all know, they would be live and this could be dangerous to human beings.

“In certain areas, some people just cut the poles on which the electricity cables are mounted and leave them there, putting local residents’ lives at risk, while others dig-up the poles and take them away for personal use.
“Vandalism varies by jurisdiction as it could be wilful malicious damage to property, equipment or buildings and it’s often associated with social disorder.”
Mr Rapapa further said the vandalism had not spared individual households, either.

“These criminals also remove household electricity installations and equipment, while from the company, they steal cables, which they sell to scrapyards, as well as the poles.”
According to Mr Rapapa, the vandalism is driven by sheer heartlessness and the thrill of damaging public property or peer-pressure and jealousy.
“Again, it is very unfortunate that at times, the thieves work together with security guards who are supposed to protect the property, and also our employees.
“Our new workers and contractors have not gone through police clearance, which increases the risk of employing criminals.

“The targeted LEC properties are transformers (oil and copper), aluminium conductors, earth-wire in substations and power-cables that the criminals sell at scrapyards, as I have previously mentioned.”
On his part, the LEC Acting Public Relations Manager, Tšepang Ledia, said some of the challenges the company faces include the allocation of sites under power-lines.
“When a family builds a house under electricity lines, this puts their lives in danger because if something goes wrong on the power-lines, they could be affected.

“The same people will also complain that the electricity poles are in their yards, yet they would have built their homes in very inappropriate places through which the power-lines pass, ” Mr Ledia said.
“Members of the various councils throughout the districts can help us address these challenges, hence the gathering we are having today.”

The LEC Risk Manager, Matšeliso Moremoholo, also told the gathering 0maintaining safety standards was very important for the preservation of lives and property, and ensuring the protection of the environment.
“Safety for every citizen, whether at home or the workplace, is of paramount important, which is why it is critical to fight the vandalism and sabotage of LEC equipment and encroachment onto LEC territory when building houses or any other such infrastructure.

“Urinating on electricity infrastructure, faults on electricity property, poles that are not perfectly placed and electricity that is not well-connected could also be dangerous,” Ms Moremoholo said
However, Ms Moremoholo said what is surprising is that communities expect to be compensated should something tragic happen as a result of damage to the LEC property by criminals.
“People get injured while others die due to accidents caused by damage to electricity infrastructure, and they expect to be compensated by the LEC, yet the company would not have been responsible for the vandalism in the first place.

“Such vandalism results in unnecessary wastage of money as the company would be forced to repair the damage, instead of providing services to new clients.”
In her address, the LEC customer education officer, ‘Maneo Liphoto said electricity attracts more investors, thereby creating more jobs, hence the need to preserve the LEC infrastructure.
“Having electricity in our area could help us attract more investors, improve service-delivery, lifestyles, security services and also attract tourists to our country, thereby raising much-needed revenue and creating employment, ” Ms Liphoto said.

“The destruction of electricity property does not only affect the LEC but also local communities and impedes the country’s economic development.”
Ms Liphoto noted recent improvement in electricity services include “mobile vending systems” launched last year, which she said showed how the LEC and various stakeholders value this critical service.
“With this mobile service, clients can now purchase electricity through their cell-phones without the stress of travelling long distances to town to buy units, which has been the case in the past.”

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