26 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Massive Blackouts Loom

Photo: Antony Kaminju/IRIN
File Photo:Business by candlelight in Harare as blackouts become order of the day.

ZIMBABWEANS are set to endure a black festive season after Zesa Holdings at the weekend announced that it will, from today, embark on massive load-shedding until the beginning of next year. In an

emergency Power Supply Update, Zesa spokesperson Mr Fullard Gwasira, said the power cuts would be necessitated by an extensive maintenance programme at Hwange and Kariba power stations.

"Zesa Holdings would like to advise all its valued customers countrywide that there will be an increase in load-shedding outside the publicised schedules from Monday 26 November due to a maintenance exercise at Unit 2 of Kariba Power Station. The maintenance exercise will be completed within a period of 18 days."

Mr Gwasira said the power outages would be worsened by another round of maintenance work for the remaining units at Kariba.

"The power supply situation will be compounded by Unit 3 of Kariba Power Station that will be taken out on 15 December 2012 for a period of six weeks for further technical repairs."

"Thereafter, the remaining units 1, 4, 5 and 6 will be out one by one at a time for a six-week period each for further technical repairs."

Mr Gwasira said more maintenance work would also be done at Hwange Power Station.

"Unit 1 of Hwange Power Station will be taken out on 7 December 2012 for a 20-day maintenance period," he said.

Mr Gwasira urged consumers to use the available power sparingly to minimise the effects of load-shedding.

Commenting on why the power utility had chosen to carry out the maintenance work during the festive season, Mr Gwasira said: "The original plan was to implement the maintenance works between April and May, but we realised that it is the winter peak period so we decided to postpone to December where demand is low considering companies would have closed down for the festive period." Mr Gwasira said Zesa would put in place measures to reduce the load-shedding.

"Our aim is to ensure that the consumer is not affected adversely by our attempt to improve power supply so we have put in place measures which are within our jurisdiction to alleviate the situation."

News of intensified load-shedding comes at a time when consumers had started to gain co Herald Correspondentnfidence in Zesa over electricity supply.

Only a few weeks ago, the Zimbabwe Power Company, which is a subsidiary of Zesa, said it had increased power generation in a development that saw a significant reduction in load-shedding.

ZPC announced that the routine maintenance would not considerably affect power supply.

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