Kariba Dam — panacea for power ache?

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Harare is a city where life has become miserable and painful due to shortage of electricity.

Over the last few years, it has been the victim of chronic load-shedding and shortage of electricity.

Harare was known as the city of lights (Sunshine City), but due to shortage of electricity the city does not have that feature any more.

Like the disease of provincialism in politicians and cronyism in State enterprises, power utility Zesa is probably responsible for power shortage mayhem and the resultant chaos in the country due to tormenting blackouts and long power outrages.

Kariba Dam could easily be the only source of cheap electricity in Zimbabwe. Environment-friendly Kariba does not only store water for farming, fishing or for tourism, it can also produce clean energy without carbon emission.

With that electricity it will be possible to pump out underground water which will also increase water resources and store water for agriculture.

Kariba Dam will increase wet land for fisheries, increase green land helpful in decreasing environmental carbon dioxide produced by coal and other fuels and control flooding and erosion of land saving people’s lives.

This is why it boggles the mind how the Zimbabwe Power Company, a subsidiary of Zesa, could leave eight of the 12 power generating units at Hwange and Kariba power stations to collapse plunging the country into increased power outages and load-shedding. And now this situation will take a year to rectify.

Last week, the protection on units 3 and 4 at Kariba Power Station tripped.

It was found that switch gears and control devices, which were replaced by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) from Europe during maintenance shutdowns earlier this year, had failed. In short, Kariba is down to four units.

At Kariba, the system that governs the turbine blades will be replaced on each unit (six weeks per unit) on a sequential schedule.

This means that from mid-December until September 2012, only five of the six units will be on line.

Hwange Power Station also lost Unit 1 due to failure of the boiler feed pump which is new and under warranty, Unit 2 due to the failure of its thrust bearing, Unit 3 due to wear on its induction fans caused by the under-performing de-ashing system and Unit 4 due to failure of its boiler feed pump.

To exacerbate the situation, the entire station was taken out by a surge out of Eskom (South Africa) on Tuesday September 27.

ZPC chairperson Richard Maasdorp said: “In June this year, a failure occurred in the generator winding unit of Unit 2 at Kariba Power Station, which can only be replaced by the OEM from Europe. During this outage, a crack was found in one of the turbine blades which only OEM can repair. This repair work is under way and is scheduled for completion before mid-October.”

There is no doubt the shortage of electricity has made life of the common man miserable and painful.

Apparently, it is dangerous to use coal for generating electricity due to its polluting effects on atmosphere, water and land resources as it causes respiratory diseases including asthma, bronchitis and heart diseases. Coal mining is the main source of global warming and environmental pollution.

Solar and wind energy are not reliable and dependable sources of electricity, therefore Kariba and other dams are the only source of cheap electricity in Zimbabwe. A little investment could do the trick.

Electricity has become a major source of energy and has great effect on human life. It is almost impossible to live without electricity in cities.

Industries have now turned to generators, batteries and UPS. When there is no electricity in markets such as at Mbare people find it very uncomfortable and difficult even to breathe. One can easily imagine how harmful it is to the physical and mental health of people.

It appears as if it is normal to live without electricity. In the absence of electricity, mosquitoes bite. Deaths due to malaria and other fevers are now common and so many people have died due to such health cases.

Students cannot study during the night due to power outages, and their performance is adversely affected by load-shedding.

Industry cannot run without electricity; machinery cannot run without electricity; surgeons cannot operate without electricity; a patient on life support cannot survive without electricity; even in agriculture we cannot irrigate without electricity; fertiliser cannot be manufactured without electricity; pesticides cannot be manufactured without electricity, the list is endless.

This clearly indicates that use of water for generation of electricity is 1 000 times better than wastage of water on land for feudals, because water wasted on land or lake is not recoverable.

It is pointless for a State enterprise to confess that there is nothing that it can do to improve power generation while its executives continue hanging in there without a solution.

The only honourable thing for them to do will be to call it quits and not continue abusing State resources at the expense of the suffering environment and public.

Unscheduled power outages should not continue indefinitely, because that will be an indictment of ZPC or is it Zesa?

We still wonder why Zesa waited this long until the electricity generators collapsed as if they did not know the lifespan of these machines. Isn’t this curious?

Email: millenniumzimbabwe@yahoo.com

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