By Robert Tapfumaneyi
IN an effort to capacitate State power producer, Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), government has suspended customs and duty on all imported power equipment.
The power utility does not manufacture turbines, spares, some raw materials and some water chemicals for power generation but imports from the region and beyond.
Recently, ZPC business performance manager Bernard Chizengeya told NewZimbabwe.com that aging power equipment is contributing to perennial power shortages the country is facing with the current crisis the worst since independence.
Some broilers that need overhaul have been due for maintenance for six years and these factors added to foreign currency shortages, low water levels at Kariba Dam and failure by customers to pay for power consumed has had ripple effects on power generation.
“Suspension of duty on power equipment, critical spares and transformer components imported by Zesa Enterprises (ZENT), Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) and Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC),” reads part of the government gazette published last Friday.
“Subject to section and to such conditions as the Commissioner-General may fix, a suspension of duty shall, for a period of two years with effect from the 1st June 2019, be granted on power equipment, critical spares and transformer components imported by ZESA, ZENT, ZETDC and ZPC.”
Information from ZPC shows that Munyati Power Station, built in 1946 with an installed capacity of 120MW and Harare Power Station installed in 1947 with capacity to generate 75MW have all shut down and so has the Bulawayo Power Station.
Thermal power stations like the ones at Munyati, Harare and Bulawayo have a lifespan of 35 years.
The situation is the same at Hwange Power Station (Unit 1 to 6) which had a major overhaul in 2017. Unit 3 is overdue by 6 years, Unit 1 and 5 overdue by 4 years).
Besides the obsolete equipment, the power utility is also failing to curb vandalism of its distribution transformers by thieves. ZETDC said about 2200 distribution transformers have been vandalised and over 9000 kilometres of copper conductor cables stolen.
The situation has been made worse by government decision in June to discontinue the multi-currency system, turning Zesa’s debtors’ book on its head from US dollar to local currency overnight.