Zesa in a quandary over smart meters

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The Zesa board members are in a dilemma after it was discovered that a software company that was hired to install software on its smart meters failed to deliver the software, Zim Morning Post can reveal.

This comes at a time when the power utility has lined up close to 25 witnesses who will testify in a case against Helcraw Electricals, a local company owned by Caps United boss Farai Jere, which supplied close to 80% of the smart meters.

Zesa dragged Jere to court accusing him of supplying meters without having done due diligence. Zesa argues that the smart meters supplied by Jere through his company had shortcomings and were at the moment being used as ordinary meters, not smart meters because they do not have a software and Simcards to connect them to the network system.

Despites the ongoing court case, this week the Zesa board has commenced reviewing the tenders and contracts it awarded to various local and international companies over the years. And it has emerged that a software company, Engelec Global, was supposed to install a software on Zesa’s smart meters to enable them to remotely read the meters, however since 2019 they are yet to install the software.

The company is said to have failed to justify its failure to install the software.

A source that spoke with Zim Morning Post said the review underway has the potential to twist the Zesa case against Helcraw as everything is pointing to poor workmanship by Zesa engineers.

The power utility company’s engineers failed to carry out due diligence on the software company (Engelec Global).

“Due diligence on Engelec was never done to check if they had capacity to supply and install the softwares for the smart meters to work perfectly and as it stands the engineers slept on the job,” said the source.

The new revelation comes at a time ZESA engineer Milton Munodawafa has already testified in court that a report was done before the meters were installed.

“We were told that the Factory Assessment Test (FAT) was done successfully,” Munodafawa told the courts.

“During the evaluation process there were other tests that were done. The amperage which was agreed was five amperes and what was offered was 10 amperes for the whole current meters.

“For the functionality, there were other SIM cards that were needed and we are told they need to be acquired by Zesa. It is a complex process.”

Munodawafa told the court that there were shortcomings picked up in the meters, but they were supposed to be resolved before the meters were delivered.

“We were told that all the tests which were done were complying,” he said.

“The shortcomings were supposed to be resolved before they were delivered. We got the report from the project manager and teams that did FAT. We also got a report from acting managing director who signed the same reports.”

Insiders said the shortcomings on the smart meters were to be resolved once the softwares and Simacrds were to be installed so that meters can communicate remotely with the network system.

“We are all perplexed as to why this should be Helcraw’s problem,” opined another source.

“Zesa has to deal with its own engineers who gave a greenlight to the project.”

While testifying in court another witness a ZESA engineer, Raphel Katsande said the meters were working despite the unavailability of simcards and that the power utility is collecting 60% of its revenue from the same meters

The insider source said ZESA required ZWL12 million for simcards so that the nation’s electricity consumption can be monitored in a server remotely.

Helcraw installed 80% of the 764 Smart meters while another company Paramount cables installed 13 %.

Surprisingly meters installed by both companies all have shortcomings because they all do not have softwares and the said simcards.

“So why is Jere’s meters being targeted when there are two companies that supplied Zesa with meters?”

The power utility company is demanding the uninstallation of the meters claiming that they do not meet its standards although an assessment done by its two engineers suggest that the meters were working perfectly and that ZESA had already collected 60% of the revenue.

An engineer who spoke to this publication said the meters could only work remotely in the presence of the simcard and the software without that ZESA has to read the meters manually.

“The failure of ZESA to conduct due diligence on the software supplier and the failure to buy simcards has hindered the smart meters to remotely communicate with the server,” the source said.

ZESA wants the meters that were installed by Helcraw Engineering in Bulawayo removed, although fully aware that the meters work as they supposed to and only the simcard and the software are delaying the remote processes.

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