Friday, 2 August 2019

POWER CUTS SCUTTLE CSC REVIVAL


RELENTLESS power cuts are scuttling efforts to resuscitate two major companies here, an official has said.

The Zimbabwe Energy Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has introduced stringent load-shedding schedules across the country that even affect critical sectors of the economy.

Residential areas and industrial sites are starved of power for not less than eight hours a day thereby negating all efforts towards production and this has adversely affected efforts to resuscitate Cold Storage Company (CSC) and Mashava’s King Mine in Masvingo.

Government is making efforts to have the two companies reopened with CSC having had sought an investor while the mine is at advanced stage of resuscitation. 

The asbestos mine, with a potential of generating foreign currency and rehiring about 3000 employees, is almost ready to start normal production following the completion of dewatering process but power cuts remain a conundrum.

In an interview Minister of State for provincial affairs, Ezra Chadzamira said the power situation was a stumbling block to companies’ resuscitation in the province.

He challenged independent power producers to complement government efforts towards addressing power challenges.

“The current situation where industry is starved of power due to regular power cuts is bad news to us. We have companies which are set to reopen but they need electricity,” said Minister Chadzamira. 

“We have CSC and King Mine which are at different stages of reopening following their closure at the height of economic meltdown sometime in 2004. The two companies need electricity for their heavy duty machines. Refrigeration for CSC needs more power.”

“I have met King Mine management and the issue of power cuts was topical. Without power, resuscitation remains a pipe dream. We therefore call on independent power producers who were given licenses to generate power in Masvingo, to start doing so.”

The power cuts have also retarded growth across many existing companies in Masvingo, as the use of generators, as an alternative, was too costly.

Masvingo Motor Centre director Mr Taidza Tafirenyika Mugoni said although some of his engineering work require less electricity, the incessant power cuts were derailing all his plans.

“While some of our operations demand less electricity, we are adversely affected by the absence of power. We only get electricity less than 20 hours a day and that means we lose more than 70 percent of business. We cannot use our wielding machines because they need electricity and that is cause of grave concern,” said Mr Mugoni.

About three different Independent Power Producers have since won tenders to install mini hydro-power stations with a capacity of between five and 15 megawatts. The ambitious projects are earmarked for Lake Mutirikwi, Tugwi Mukosi and Mkwasine in Chiredzi. However, the projects are yet to begin despite the completion of feasibility studies. 

Government is making frantic efforts to negotiate for more power from our all-weather friend, ESKOM of South Africa and indications are that the country can get a bail out, any time soon. Herald

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