EDITORIAL COMMENT:BCC should let ZPC rehabilitate power station

The Chronicle

President Mnangagwa was yesterday expected to meet his South African counterpart President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss the issue of SA increasing electricity it is exporting to Zimbabwe. The country is experiencing massive load shedding due to low generation capacity at Kariba Power Station caused by low water levels and the constant breaking down of  old equipment at Hwange Thermal Power Station. 

Last year President Mnangagwa commissioned the Kariba South expansion which boosted electricity generation at Kariba from 650MW to 950MW.  Generation of power has however been drastically reduced as a result of low water levels caused by last season’s drought. Cde Mnangagwa said he was engaging President Ramaphosa so they could discuss the possibility of Eskom increasing electricity exports to Zimbabwe. 

He said when he visited Mozambique recently he also talked to officials regarding the issue of Hydro Caborra Basa increasing exports to Zimbabwe. President Mnangagwa said while the country was importing electricity to cover deficit of local power generation, it was working on long-term projects to boost power generation so that it is able to meet local demand and even export surplus electricity to neighbouring countries. 

He said Zimbabwe had secured US$1,3 billion from China for Hwange Thermal Power Station 7 and 8 expansion. President Mnangagwa said construction of the Batoka Hydro Electric Power Station was expected to commence soon after Zambia and Zimbabwe who will jointly own the station, selected United States’ General Electric and China Power for the US$4,2 billion project. 

It is therefore disturbing to note that while Government is working hard to increase power generation, we have councils such as Bulawayo City Council putting spanners in the works. We do not understand why council is opposed to the rehabilitaton of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station which will see the station’s power generation capacity increased from 30MW to 90 MW. 

The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) said the rehabilitation involves the demolition of the power station’s two cooling towers that have developed cracks and the rehabilitation of the other four cooling towers. The BCC’s argument is that the towers have a historical significance but what the council should appreciate is that the cooling towers are not monuments but infrastructure of the power station. 

Bulawayo like any other city or town urgently needs increased power generation to meet demand and therefore cannot afford this unnecessary bickering which is delaying the implementation of the US$110m rehabilitation of the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station. 

We totally agree with Energy and Power Development Minister Advocate Fortune Chasi that it was not necessary for BCC and ZPC to drag each other to court over the issue. These cooling towers that have outlived their lifespan should be demolished because they are no longer serving the purpose for which they were built and are now a danger to those working at the station and surroundings.