Felex Share Senior Reporter
Government has ordered the Zimbabwe Power Company to strictly supervise Sino-Hydro on the expansion of Kariba South Power Station to ensure that high standards are met throughout the project.
Speaking during a tour of the power station last week, Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge urged the contractor to be mindful of the 2018 deadline on key projects espoused in the Government economic blueprint, Zim-Asset.
Sino-Hydro, a Chinese firm, was contracted to construct two additional units at Kariba with a capacity to generate 300MW at a cost of $533 million. Work on the project has started with excavation works on some adits, batching plants, access roads and water tanks having been completed.
Dr Undenge said the power deficit being experienced countrywide should end by 2018.
âWe need the project to be complete even before the due date but you have to supervise the contractor in ensuring quality standards are met throughout the project,â he said.
âDo not leave room for slip-ups. Significant progress has been made in terms of construction and I am sure we will be able to complete construction before 2017 although the set date is 2018.â
ZPC and Sino-Hydro, Dr Undenge said, should bear in mind that electricity was the cornerstone of economic development. Sino-Hydro was also awarded a $1,1 billion contract to expand the Hwange Thermal Power Station to add 600MW to the national grid.
âYou are the foot soldiers on the ground responsible for the production of electricity and my vision is to see the insufficiency we are experiencing disappearing such that we enter an era of producing surplus power for export in the region.
âThe Kariba South expansion is demonstration of progress being made in implementing Zim-Asset in terms of the infrastructure and utilities cluster and we have to ensure that in two yearsâ time we deliver electricity to the people, industry and rural areas.
âI am impressed the work here is non-stop and at this rate we will complete on time.â
ZPC managing director Engineer Noah Gwariro said $91 million had been disbursed so far for the Kariba project with China Exim Bank providing $80 million and the remainder coming from ZPC.
âThe first drawdown was made on October 31 last year and this paved way for the contractual commencement on November 10 last year,â he said.
âThis means about $260 million is yet to be disbursed and it is going to come in tranches.â
He added: âAs part of the indigenisation drive, we have total manpower levels of 519 with 389 being locals. At project peak we will need about 700 employees.â
Commenting on reports that local parastatals were being duped by Chinese firms who were charging more than they did in other countries, Eng Gwariro said the scope of the work on the project differed.
He said it was impossible to compare the expansion of the $278 million Kariba North Power Station on the Zambian side and Kariba South Power Station.
âKariba North was built after Zambiaâs independence and when they built their power station, they built four units and they had also done some work for the extra units they later built,â Eng Gwariro said.
âThe power house for example had been excavated but we have to build a new one here and there is a lot of reinforcement to be done. There are also pre-commencement works which were done on Kariba North which we had not done on Kariba South. We also have a situation where work on Kariba South was done about six years after the work on Kariba North, so there is a difference on time, value of money. This is not a simplistic comparison and people will need to make a thorough assessment looking into all those areas.â
To end the chronic power shortages, Zimbabwe is working on a raft of public and private expansion projects, chief among them Kariba and Hwange.
The country generates about 1 300MW against a peak demand of 2 200MW.