Theft of irrigation equipment cost the Mafambisse su gar company, in the central Mozambican province of Sofala, about 188 million met i cais (about US$ 7.8 million) between January and May this year, according to a r e port in the Beira daily paper “Diario de Mocambique”.
The thieves removed pipes, taps, fasteners and anything else made of metal, as w ell as the electricity cables that provide power to the cane fields.
According to the company’s general manager, Paul Devilliers, the problem is much worse this year than in 2007.
Devilliers said that 50,000 metres of copper cable was stolen in the first five months of the year, compared with 18,000 metres in the same period of 2007, putting the increa se in losses due to theft this year at 26 million meticais.
The stolen metal is melted down to make domestic items – notably aluminium pots and pans.
“The proliferation of factories making aluminium pans is the main cause of these thefts”, declared the manager of general services at the company, Tomas Guambe.
Guambe noted that nine people had recently been caught red-handed stealing alumi nium tubing from the cane fields, and are currently being held by the police.
He said the company management had held a series of meetings with the police and the communities living near the plantation, adding that “these meetings seek es s entially to explain what the thefts are costing the company and possibly to find
“The company employs many people from this area, and we cannot allow things to g o on in this way.”
The Mafambisse company currently occupies 9,500 hectares of cane fields and it i s one of two sugar plantations in Mozambique owned by the South African sugar gi a nt Tongaat Hulett.