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‘Repossess thermal power station’

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Bulawayo residents yesterday challenged the city council to confront Zesa and reclaim the Bulawayo Thermal Power Station to enable the local authority to manage its own power supplies and ease shortages at some of its strategic points.

Debating the local authority’s 2013 budget at Njube Hall, the residents called on the city fathers to demand control of the power station to ease power shortages at council premises some of which have gone for a year without electricity after being cut off by Zesa.

Three of the council’s main administration centres — Tower Block, Revenue Hall and City Hall — are being powered by generators after they were switched off by Zesa over a $9,2 million debt. According to the latest council minutes, the debt has since ballooned to $20 million.

The Bulawayo Thermal Power Station was handed over to Zesa through an Act of Parliament in 1987.

The power station was commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking of the Municipality of Bulawayo and has an installed capacity of 120 megawatts although it currently generates 90 megawatts.

“Now that the council had some hitches with Zesa over a debt and that we are experiencing serious power shortages in the city, why can’t the council repossess Bulawayo Thermal Power Station to make sure that Bulawayo has its own electricity locally generated?” asked a resident.

“This can help make the local authority avoid parting with a lot of money as payment to Zesa, but generate money from residents.”

In response, a senior council official, identified as Mente Ndlovu, assured the residents he would present the proposal to his superiors.

Harare City Council is also seized with the same matter with residents calling on the city fathers to reclaim the city’s thermal power station.

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