Felex Share Senior Reporter
Zesa Holdings has extended the prepaid meter tender to add an additional 150 000 units following an outcry by prospective bidders that they had not been given enough time to prepare their bids.

The tender closed on April 28 but has been extended to June 9.

The prepaid meters were increased to convert about 80 000 points that remain on the post-paid meter system in Harare and other western regions while the remaining units would cover new connections and fault maintenance.

Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company managing director Engineer Julian Chinembiri confirmed the development.

“We have added about six more weeks because the prospective bidders were complaining that there was no enough time to prepare the bids and samples.

“We are certain that after that there won’t be an outcry. What we are looking for is a meter that is already designed and has been supplied to other utilities in the past and not a new meter that will be designed to meet the specification. We do not want manufacturers to use us as a test ground.”

The extension comes at a time Zesa has tightened specifications for the contract much to the disgruntlement of local companies.

The specifications were tightened to avoid a repeat of the 2011 tender which saw Zesa losing millions of dollars after some of the contractors supplied faulty meters.

Zesa has been losing more than $10 million every month due to power theft and defects on the pre-paid meters supplied by ZTE from China, Nyamazela of South Africa and local firms Finmark and Solahart.

Indications are that most of the more than 83 prospective bidders will not meet the new specifications.

Only four companies would be enlisted for the contract.

This has resulted in some companies concluding that the specifications were tightened to suit certain suppliers.

“The crafting of the specifications leaves a lot to be desired and it is clear many of the companies will not make it,” said one bidder.

“It is clear the job is meant for certain companies and it is not surprising to see same old players winning the tender again.”

Zesa has indicated the technical specifications were not designed to suit any manufacturer’s meter adding that to avoid leakages, the pre-paid meters should be of “the highest quality and standard.”

All bidders, Zesa said, stood an equal chance of winning the tender depending on the competitiveness of their bids.

Zesa has installed more than 537 000 pre-paid meters countrywide since 2011 against a target of 800 000 meters espoused in the Government economic blue print, Zim-Asset.

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