Minister quizzed over stalled power projects

BY VENERANDA LANGA

ENERGY deputy minister Magna Mudyiwa was on Thursday quizzed in Senate over upgrading of Hwange and Kariba power stations which have been going on for several years without tangible improvement in power generation.

Mashonaland West Senator Voice Chinake (Zanu PF) asked Mudyiwa to explain government policy to ensure electricity availability in the country, to which she said government was upgrading Hwange Power Station.

However, Midlands Senator Morgen Komichi (MDC Alliance) pointed out that the prolonged power projects were bleeding government coffers.

“We have measures that we have been putting in place to import electricity, but we also have Hwange Thermal Power Station, where we get some of our electricity and there are six units that are supposed to be working to generate 705 megawatts (MW),” Mudyiwa said.

“Due to that, the generators are now obsolete, they work for at least two days and they break down, hence we are experiencing serious electricity shortages.”

Mudyiwa told Senate of the Hwange seven and eight expansion project, which is 30% complete and is expected to be completed by 2021, adding that plans were afoot to upgrade Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare thermal stations.

The deputy minister said business and institutions such as Parliament should harness solar power and get off the grid.

“There are companies that we are encouraging to do this such as Econet and Schweppes that are already using solar.

“Through the renewable energy policy, institutions like hospitals and universities should have solar fields so that they can generate solar for use. We also urge people who can afford to use solar energy to do so,” she said, adding that excess power could be fed to the national grid.

Komichi then raised the issue of ageing thermal power stations which are always being upgraded with nothing tangible to show.

“This is not the first time that upgrading has been done at the three thermal power stations – Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare – and a lot of money has been used and channelled towards these upgrades. If you look at your records, you will notice that Bulawayo was upgraded, but nothing came up, then Munyati was upgraded and nothing came up. Harare was also upgraded, but nothing came up. Why not build new power stations because those already there can be museums because they are useless. It is better to put independent units of 200MW in Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare,” Komichi said.

Mudyiwa said she would take Komichi’s recommendations.

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