SPB cancels smart meters tender

Minister Mavhaire

Minister Mavhaire

Felex Share Senior Reporter
The State Procurement Board has officially cancelled the Zesa Holdings tender for smart meters which had been inflated by former Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire with the intention of getting kickbacks from potential bidders.

The 300 000 smart meter tender was cancelled following a request by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company which argued that there were no such potential sites countrywide in need of those units.

Cde Mavhaire and his erstwhile deputy Cde Munacho Mutezo had forced Zesa officials to tender for such a bloated figure, yet the pair was advised that the power utility needed only 60 000 meters.

ZETDC managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri yesterday confirmed the cancellation of the $120 million tender, saying another one would be floated soon.

“The tender has officially been cancelled and the State Procurement Board has written informing us of the cancellation of the tender,” he said. “We are now going to have another one indicating the exact number we want, which is in the range of 60 000.”

Cdes Mavhaire and Mutezo allegedly wanted more smart meters so they could get more money through kickbacks, with each bidder expected to pay a certain amount per meter to oil their hands.

Eng Chinembiri said the power utility would begin with a pilot project of 10 000 smart meters, a move which initially had been quashed by the two, who described it as a waste of time.

“We are preparing the papers and by the end of this week we would have submitted them to the SPB for them to invite potential bidders for the pilot project,” he said.

“Suppliers should have their funding and on the pilot project, we need to have four or five suppliers, supplying different types of meters. This is for us to test inter-operability. We are also going to test the communication part of the meters, that is they are going to be installed in different parts of the country while we will be monitoring them in Harare.”

Expectations are that the smart metering technology, which reports to the centre any meter by-passing, would curb power theft and increase revenue generation as compared to pre-paid meters.

Eng Chinembiri said while the pilot project would be under way, the power utility would be carrying out an audit to establish the exact number of properties in need of smart units.

“We have to see how many large power users we have countrywide, but we are working with about 60 000,” he said. “These are customers who use above 100 amps.”

More than 300 companies had already bought tender documents on the initial tender.

Zesa has been losing more than $10 million in revenue every month due to defects which are on the pre-paid meters supplied by ZTE from China, Nyamazela of South Africa and local firms Finmark and Solahart. As a stop gap measure, Zesa is now mounting prepaid meters on poles instead of houses to curb tampering and power theft.

More than 540 000 units of pre-paid meters have been installed since August 2012.