BY RICHARD MUPONDE

RESIDENTS of Plumtree early this week spend 24 hours without electricity after bees swarmed the electricity poles that carry power lines linking Bulawayo and the border town, stinging Zesa employees, forcing them to defer replacement of stolen copper conductors.

Business reportedly came to a standstill in the dormant border town, triggering fears of a security risk at the country’s entry and exit point to neighbouring Botswana.

The effects were also felt by Solusi University near Tsholotsho, as the educational institution is connected to the Bulawayo grid.

The bees stung the Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company’s (ZETDC) reaction team, which had been deployed to rectify the problem at Khami Bridge area, about 17
kilometres along the Bulawayo-Plumtree Highway.

They had to abandon the mission and summoned teams of fumigators from the city, who battled the stinging insects until after hours, leaving no room to finish the job.

The team had to abandon the exercise to complete the job yesterday. Power in Plumtree had gone out in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, leading to Plumtree ZETDC area
manager Victor Ndawana informing the Plumtree Civil Protection Unit about the power outage.

“We lost power from Bulawayo at 1am and efforts are underway to rectify the problem,” Ndawana said.

“It is with regret that works on conductor replacement, due to copper theft close to Khami River, will not be finished today. The cause being that other tubular steel poles had aggressive bees inside them. Pest control teams were engaged and are working to contain the bees.”

Recently, Plumtree has been dogged by power outages due to copper cable thefts along the Bulawayo-Plumtree Highway, leaving the border town going for days without power.

The border town had previously gone for a week without electricity due to theft of copper cables, affecting business and the delivery of essential services.

Zesa has been losing cables worth millions of dollars to thieves, with some targeting transformer oil for resale on the black market.