11 February 2013

Mozambique: Explosion - Heavy Losses for EDM

Maputo — The losses to the Mozambican electricity company EDM from the explosion on Saturday morning at the SONEFE sub-station in Maputo could reach 100 million meticais (over three million US dollars), according to the executive director of the company, Adriano Jonas, cited in Monday’s issue of the independent daily “O Pais”.

He warned that this was a very preliminary estimate, and that a more rigorous assessment would only be possible after the arrival of experts from Germany, the country of origin of the damaged equipment.

“Right now, we can’t give you any exact numbers”, said Jonas, “because an expert investigation still has to be made, which will recommend what later work needs to be done.

For this, we will count on intervention by the manufacturer, who has already been contacted, and is willing to send a team from Germany to assist us”.

The explosion killed one EDM worker, and cut the power to all of southern Mozambique. Power was restored to Gaza and Inhambane provinces late on Saturday morning, but work on restoring normal supplies to Maputo city continued into Sunday night, with consumers suffering repeated power cuts.

SONEFE used to be a back-up, coal-fired power station, used to supply Maputo during the war of destabilisation, when the South African backed Renamo rebels regularly sabotaged the transmission lines from Komatipoort to Maputo.

The coal-fired power station has long been decommissioned, and on the SONEFE premises there is now a gas-fired distribution centre, which controls the distribution of power for all of southern Mozambique.

EDM’s weekend work was to install an alternative line which bypasses SONEFE. This line is controlled from the substation at Fomento, in the neighbouring city of Matola.

EDM was determined to ensure that electricity supply should be back to normal in Maputo by Monday morning, but in this the company was not entirely successful, given that power cuts were still occurring in parts of the city in mid-morning.

The cause of the Saturday explosion has not yet been determined, through a gas leak would be one possibility.

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