Parly letting us down on power situation

We believe so far, Parliament has let us down in terms of demanding tangible answers to the country’s unrelenting power crisis.

ON Monday this week, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Energy toured the Harare Thermal Power Station where it saw some of the country’s most enduring machinery.

The Members of Parliament (MPs) toured a facility with machinery that is way older than any of the legislators in the committee, having been built and installed in 1942 and 1958, 81 and 65 years ago, respectively.

The power station’s generation capacity has since thinned to a paltry 12 megawatts (MW) as of yesterday, from an installed capacity of 80MW; and we honestly do not know what the MPs expected to see since for many years, the plant and others of its kind in Bulawayo, Munyati, and the biggest at Hwange, have been yearning for attention.

While it is commendable that the MPs are at least making an effort to see first-hand the situation at these rickety plants, we believe their visits should at least culminate in some tangible changes or real improvements at these stations because so far, Parliament has failed to achieve anything for these miserable power factories.

Harare Power Station acting managing director Norbert Mataruse told the legislators that US$5 million was urgently needed to resuscitate the plant to enable it to at feed 30MW into the national grid.

We, however, doubt that even if the money is availed today, the power station will ever fully come back on stream given that its sister plant, the Hwange Thermal Power Station’s resuscitation is proving to be an exercise in futility after the country secured a US$310 million loan facility last year from the Export-Import Bank of China to refurbish it.

For a couple of months now, we have been told Hwange, which was built between 1983 and 1987 with an initial installed capacity of 920MW, still has one of its units, Unit  7, under test months after being connected to the national grid.

And in the meantime, Zimbabwe’s enduring power outages are here to stay.

From the look of things, the plant’s performance appears to be now worse than before its rehabilitation.

We, therefore, believe if Parliament is serious in its oversight role, it should thoroughly investigate whether all the money that has been pumped into Hwange Power Station went towards its intended purpose because it does not make sense that after all that effort, the plant is not abating the electricity situation.

Parliament should establish whether or not it is worth it to rehabilitate the country’s dilapidated coal-fired power plants.

Otherwise Parliament should recommend that new machinery be installed at these thermal power plants because Zimbabwe will forever bleed financially while trying to revive machinery and equipment that are long past their sell-by dates.

We believe so far, Parliament has let us down in terms of demanding tangible answers to the country’s unrelenting power crisis, which appears to be worsening and threatening to ground everything, and most critically our industries.

There are too many fishy things happening in the energy sector which Parliament appears not to be realising; and what is happening at Hwange is just one of the very strange situations that Parliament needs to scrutinise before touring other facilities such as the Harare Power Station.

Otherwise Parliament is proving to be a toothless bulldog by merely touring rundown facilities with no fruitful results as far as improving the country’s power supply situation.

Parliament should stop conducting these useless tours that only serve to waste taxpayers money and make MPs appear to be the busiest of bees.

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