IMPLICATIONS OF PRE-PAID METER INSTALLATIONS ON STREET LIGHT AND TRAFFIC SIGNALS BY ZESCO
The City wide installation of pre-paid metres embarked by ZESCO Limited on various facilities though well intended; it has a serious implication on the management of street lighting and traffic signals in the City. Lusaka City Council has 136 active accounts with ZESCO Limited, of these accounts, about 73 comprise of Street Lighting and Traffic Signals.
For example Kafue Road Street lights have roughly 80 double arm poles each carrying two 400W High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lanterns. “When all the 160 lanterns (i.e. 80 double arm pole multiplied by 2=160) are operational for 10 hours in a night and for 30 days, a total of 19,200KWH of electricity units is consumed, costing Lusaka City Council more than K5, 760.00 per month for Kafue Road Street lighting alone. This excludes adverts and traffic lights along this road.” Kafue road has five circuits and each circuit cost Lusaka City Council K 300.00 per month billed on a social tariff. For five circuits, the Council has been spending approximately K1, 500.00 per month. Therefore with installation of pre-paid meters, Lusaka City Council will be required to pay 284% more than it is currently spending which is a source of concern.
Currently the Council owes ZESCO Limited more than K2, 000,000.00, and with the installation of pre – paid metres, it means that the Council has ceased to enjoy the social tariff which is friendly to a non business entity like Lusaka City Council. With the already accrued bill it is anticipated that at the end of the pre-paid meter installation exercise on the council facilities, the electricity bill is likely to triple. Thus considering the gravity of the consequences this exercise will have on traffic signals the Council intends to engage ZESCO through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to consider Lusaka City Council as a special case.
“The danger with this exercise is that the electricity bill payable to ZESCO will be exorbitant hence the possibility of the traffic signals going off one day is very high, which is also a danger to traffic flow/management in the City.”
There is need for ZESCO to allow the Council to continue operating on a social tariff as opposed to a commercial tariff because LCC is not a business entity and the Council does not make profit out street lights and traffic signals which would be used to sustain the cost.
Acting Public Relations Manager