By Berio Mbala
Katima Mulilo residents who have now resigned themselves to candles and paraffin to light up their homes, due to the highly unreliable electricity supply and frequent blackouts, have for the past two weeks suffered the worst power outages.
During the past two weeks, the blackouts assumed new dimensions mainly because the vending machines being used for the sale of pre-paid electricity units were not operational.
Interestingly, the vending machines malfunctioned due to frequent power fluctuations that resulted in the service station that sells electricity units being unable to serve its customers.
Speaking to New Era, the Chief Executive Officer of NORED Electricity Company, Gottlieb Amanyanga, said, “Residents of Katima Mulilo town can still buy electricity at our Nored office while the vending machine is still out of order.”
He explained that the machine that has broken down enables clients to buy power on a 24-hour basis and workers can conveniently buy power after prescribed working hours.
The stabilizer has not yet been bought but the order is being processed. The stabilizer is expected to start operating again next week.
“The residents of Katima Mulilo must be patient. Everything will be back to normal as from next week,” he assured the long-suffering residents.
Even though the vending machine is not working, members of the public are urged to buy electricity from Nored’s regional office whose closing hours have now been extended to 19h00 until this problem is rectified.
Senior Manager of Commercial Services of Nored, Toivo Shovaleka, said the vending machine has been out of order for two weeks and residents of Katima together with their leaders have been informed through NBC’s Silozi Radio Service.
The vending machine went out of order due to the power fluctuating. What caused the damage was the lower voltages because once the voltage is low, it is not able to operate adequately and at the same time many people are buying electricity through the machine and that is why it went out of order.
IT technicians are being sent to the town to repair the machine and before the end of this week the problem would be addressed.
Meanwhile, a number of prepaid electricity customers who prefer anonymity said some of the people in the town were not able to buy electricity because the queue has been long for the past two weeks.
“They have extended their working hours up to 7 o’clock in the evening but some of the people still could not make it through the queue to buy electricity because it is too long,” complained a female client.
The prepaid electricity system requires clients to buy a card from the distributor, which has a certain number of electrical units on it.
The card is then put into a vending machine, which allows the client to use a certain amount of those units by printing out a code, which the client can then key into the electrical ‘box’ in his or her home.
Residents at the town, despite the upgrades on the grid through which the power is imported from Zambia, have long been subjected to frequent outages resulting in their food being ruined while sensitive electronic appliances have also been damaged by the outages.