One year jail for wrong light bulbs

Livingstone Marufu and Grace Kaerasora
Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority inspectors have begun enforcing regulations to save energy, with traders selling conventional filament light bulbs facing up to a year in prison. Vehicles used to import or distribute incandescent bulbs will also be seized, while offending installers and engineers will be arrested.

Government outlawed use of conventional light bulbs via Inefficient Lighting Ban and Labelling Regulations passed on May 1, 2017. The regulations promote energy-saving lighting, which experts say could conserve over 240MW in the next six months. Other banned lighting products include T10 and T12 halo phosphate fluorescent lamps, magnetic ballasts, fluorescent lamps with a colour rendering index of less than 80, and devices with mercury content greater than legally stipulated values.

Zera technical director Engineer Misheck Siyakatshana told The Sunday Mail last week, “An inspector appointed under Section 62 of the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) shall at a reasonable time enter any premises where the inspector has reason to believe that a lighting product not meeting the minimum standards is being imported, manufactured, stored, distributed or offered for sale. “If a person is charged with contravening these regulations, the inspector may seize — (a) Lighting products which do not meet required standards being imported, manufactured, stored, sold, used, or transported in contravention of these regulations; and

“(b) Any vehicle or other equipment used in connection with the importation, manufacturing, storing, selling, use or transportation of inefficient lighting products in contravention of these regulations pending an investigation into the offence.” Eng Siyakatshana said many retailers and wholesalers in high density suburbs were still stocking and selling the banned bulbs. “An informal survey carried out by the authority mainly in Harare indicated that most big retailers are no longer stocking the incandescent bulbs.

‘‘However, there is still a number of small retailers stocking these products, especially in high density areas. “Zera has also carried out tests on compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LEDs being stocked by various wholesalers/retailers and discovered that some of these products do not meet the required minimum standards for example, a 4W lighting bulb labelled as 12W lighting bulb. “We have been holding awareness workshops with stakeholders on these new energy efficiency lighting standards.”

According to research, LED bulbs use up to 90 percent less energy and last more than six times longer than ordinary filament lamps. While a conventional bulb uses an average of 130kWh at US$13 per year, an LED bulb requires only 15kWh at US$1,50. CFLs use 24kWh at US$2,40 per year. South Africa was the first African country to transition from inefficient lighting, and its CFLs can be used in table lamps, track lighting, ceiling fixtures and porchlights.

Dimmable CFLs are also available for lights with dimmer switches, and will save South Africa US$40 million yearly.

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