Malawians took to social media to react over the news that some unscrupulous people are vandalising national power grid lines for Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM), which prompted the utility service provider to execute an emergency load shedding outside its scheduled programme due to insufficient power supply.
The lost 100MW took place around 21:00hrs on Sunday that led to the emergency load shedding and at an impromptu press conference on Sunday, ESCOM Chief Executive Officer, Kamkwamba Kumwenda the nationwide blackout was due to vandalism on its power line from Nkula Hydro Power Station to Blantyre.
He said the saboteurs cut off about 100 meters of its line at Kameza in Blantyre and went away with it, which caused a major system disturbance.
Thus the affected part of the grid resulted in tripping off of the affected line as well as the generating machines, resulting in system collapse.
This incident of national blackout — which lasted about three hours — is the 5th since January this year that was also compounded by effects of Tropical Storm Ana that damaged Kapichira Power Station — losing 130MW off the national grid.
A leaked internal communication indicate that the vandalised equipment include massive conductor on Nkula A Blantyre 66kV overhead line on Structure 56 at Kameza and that ESCOM employees are on serious patrol around the area to detect other affected areas.
The communication indicated that the technical fault “was induced in order to steal the conductor” and following this revelation Malawians
Immediately after the blackout, which the public thought was the load shedding exercise — and after ESCOM issued a statement explaining that it was actually a system shutdown due to the vandalism, people took to social media indicating that such kind of vandalism of 66kV overhead line can only be done by an expert and strongly suspect that such saboteurs could be disgruntled former staff that were unceremoniously dismissed.
One commentator on social media observed that such nationwide black has taken place three of four times in past 3 months, and in suspecting that this was just some sabotage, the equipment vandalised were left behind.
“The conductors that ESCOM says were vandalized were left behind because they were of no use to an individual — that’s why I suspect that this is sabotage of highest order, which to me tantamount as treason,” said the commentator.
Another observed that after tripping the major power line, and once the line was out under the national blackout, they go on to steal power line cables — indicating that “this could only have been done by insider” adding the question: “Where does one get the knowledge on how to trip a major power line?”
It was also reported that on June 12, a similar vandalism took place in Rumphi — thus the the suspicion strongly pointing at some recently fired, who are disgruntled and are hitting back.
Elia Hawkins Phiri observed that its dangerous to come into close contact of a main power line that can transmit 10,000 volts with Canaan Kumwenda strongly opining that these saboteurs can’t be anyone else but a disgruntled ESCOM employees.
The consensus from the public is that ESCOM should get on the ground seriously and monitor the recently fired members of staff and once caught should face the law.
He said: He said as a nation we should not tolerate this type of behavior. It’s abhorrent and ESCOM needs to do a thorough investigation and culprits ought to be severely punished with life imprisonment.”
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