OMUTHIYA - The Northern Regional Electricity Distributor (Nored) has raised concern over escalating copper theft from its power stations, saying it costs millions in repairs as well as lost revenue.
Nored’s concerns come a week after a power blackout in Omuthiya and some areas in Oshikoto, as they had to conduct repairs following copper wire theft at a substation.
The distributor’s spokesperson Simon Lukas, said copper theft cases have become so frequent and prevalent in the last six months, with Kunene, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto and Ohangwena topping the list.
“The replaced conductors of the known cases are estimated at N$600 000 and the supply equipment failures, due to stolen equipment, is beyond N$2.5 million. However, this excludes the lost sales due to the outages,” said Lukas.
“Copper theft at this point is severe as it negatively impacts on the safety and continuity of electricity supply. It also leads to a critical shortage of security supply equipment failures worth millions of dollars if undetected and restored.”
The public and perpetrators can be severely injured or even electrocuted during copper theft, as they enter dangerous prohibited live chamber stations.
The theft can also lead to prolonged power supply interruptions as well as supply interruptions to restore the stolen copper wire.
With such incidents, Lukas said Nored has instituted security measures, such as the installation of security cameras in most critical equipment stations, mostly at Ongwediva, Ondangwa, Rundu and Katima Mulilo.
“The company has procured and implemented new anti-theft technology to counter the theft. We have also engaged in public educations and media anti-copper theft campaigns and the danger of electricity,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, the entity has engaged the police and registered numerous cases, which have resulted in the arrest of perpetrators.
“The company has engaged and registered tampering and theft cases with the police and these efforts resulted in some recoveries and breakthroughs. We also uncovered a copper theft syndicate around Oshana region. The perpetrators were apprehended and will be dealt with as per the applicable laws violated,” said the communication officer.
More arrests are due to be made, he added.
Lukas said they are irked by vandalism of electricity supply infrastructure, which contributes to emergency power failure interruptions. Another challenge, he said was unauthorised access to sites as well as illegal connections.
“All these actions are risk practices that can lead to severe injuries, electrocutions and death; therefore, we should be mindful and desist from doing such,” he cautioned.