BULAWAYO residents are up in arms with power utility Zesa’s plans to “demolish” two of the old cooling towers at the Bulawayo Power Station.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said nothing should be done without the involvement and approval of the council and residents, who were the erstwhile owners of the power station.
“There is a legal battle for the ownership of that power station, with ZPC having endorsed tittle deeds over it. We want that mess sorted first. We demand a permanent space on the bargaining table as residents,” he said.
The Bulawayo Power Station was commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking by the municipality of Bulawayo.
Council spokesperson Bongiwe Ngwenya, however, said the local authority was not “aware of Zesa’s intentions as they had not been consulted on the matter”.
Historical and archaeological consultant Rob Burrett, who is also an associate researcher with the Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe, felt the towers should be painted and transformed into a tourist attraction.
“They are an essential part of the Bulawayo landscape; they relate to the traditional name from the city (koNtuthuziyathunqa), and I really cannot see why they are being taken down. In Johannesburg, the old cooling towers have been painted and transformed into a tourist attraction. This would be significant if it were done in Bulawayo,” he said.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, however, said they were upgrading the cooling towers, not demolishing it, but making them big and more efficient.
“It’s not demolishing. When you say demolishing, it’s a wrong word. It’s upgrading. When you demolish one or two to make for a bigger one, that’s not demolishing. It makes way for a modern one because the generating capacity increases, then you need a bigger unit,” he said.