from WELLINGTON TONI in Harare, Zimbabwe
HARARE – THERE seems to be headway in efforts to resolve legal wrangles stalling the rollout of a project to eradicate erratic power supplies in Zimbabwe.
The scheme, which is located southwest of the country, in the Matabeleland South provincial capital of Gwanda, along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge highway, is set to add 100 megawatts (MW) to the national grid upon completion.
Court cases have bedeviled it since 2015.
Intratrek Zimbabwe, owned by businessman Wicknell Chivayo, was awarded the US$183 million project.
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) has objected to this, citing tender irregularities.
It wants the tender process revoked.
ZPC’s parent company, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings, contends Chivayo was given $5 million for preliminary works, without a bank guarantee.
Hence it wants the tender cancelled.
However, the warring parties appear eager to put their differences aside, culminating in hopes the project will be back on track and produce its first 10MW in the next six months.
Advocate Fortune Chasi, the Energy and Power Development Minister, conceded the nation has suffered critical power shortages due to the squabbles.
“The business of ZPC and ZESA is to be engaged in power generation and not legal battles. The court cases have been going back and forth since 2015 yet we have a shortage of electricity,” the minister bemoaned.
He added, “It (court case) does not serve any purpose. We want power. We want the first 10MW in the next six months.”
The minister says the project has national status and must proceed immediately for the benefit of a nation that relies heavily on power imports from South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic Congo (DRC), creating a huge import bill.
In an earlier ruling this year, Justice Tawanda Chitapi ordered ZESA and Intratrek to find common ground and allow the project to proceed to help in reducing the crippling power import bill and provide electricity.
Chasi lamented the boardroom squabbles were derailing his ministry’s intention to provide adequate electricity in Zimbabwe.
“Cancelling and re-tendering will take longer than producing 10MW in six months. So, we can’t be in a situation where we spend more time in boardrooms than on the ground producing electricity for the nation,” he said.
Zimbabwe needs 1200MW at peak but is currently producing around 631MW due to ongoing refurbishments at Hwange Thermal Power Station and Kariba dam.
Intratek has been spotted on-site in Gwanda and Chivayo posted pictures of pre-commencement works on his social media pages.
He said his company and international partners were ready to commence work.
– CAJ News