Sino Hydro Power, the Chinese Company that the PF government engaged to upgrade and rehabilitate Kariba North Bank and Kafue Gorge power stations installed substandard, cheap equipment that have lower capacity than the original British made machines they found and replaced.
This is what is causing the load shedding, according to highly placed ZESCO and government officials
Sources say there is no shortage of water in the country as there was enough rainfall from rain catchment areas such as North-Western and Copperbelt Provinces to feed the major power generation plants on the Southern part of the country.
“The water that drives turbines for power generation does not come from Southern Province, but it comes from the entire Zambezi river basin stretching from North-western, Copperbelt province to Kariba Dams and Kafue Gorge. And there is no evidence of any dams that were constructed upstream to disturb the water situation. Kariba Dam is just a reservoir, and unless they are telling us the management of that dam, Zambezi River Authority, are so incompetent that they opened the spillway gates knowing there was no water”, sources within Zesco have revealed.
Sources say what happened was that the Zambian government engaged Sino Hydro Power Company to upgrade Kafue Gorge lower and also expand Kariba North Bank Project to boost electricity supply in the country using the Eurobond money.
“This company removed the British machines and components that were installed some years back. But instead of expanding the machine capacities, the specifications were changed due to corruption and Zambians were cheated that bigger machines were being installed yet they were of the lower capacity and substandard compared to the original machines. It’s like putting small tyres on a bigger vehicle carrying same or more load,” sources revealed.
A detailed investigation revealed that Sino Hydro was supposed to install three machines of 180 megawatts each and rehabilitate the fourth one at Kariba North Bank. This would have pushed the capacity to 720 megawatts at this power plant alone. This would have added additional power that would have included Kafue Gorge Power plant.
“If you remember then Vice-President Guy Scott commissioned an extra 300 megawatts at Itezhi Tezhi on his way to Mangango bye-elections campaigns. This would have meant the country having an excess of more than 108 megawatts for export in the country. And even Lungu himself recently commissioned Lunzua Power Station in Northern Province during Senga Hill campaigns meaning the country has increased power supply capacity,” sources inside Zesco have revealed.
The sources have also questioned why the PF government dissolved the board and have since challenged government to come clean on the kind of generation turbines installed and upgrades that were done by the Chinese company using the Euro bond money.
Highly placed sources say the real problem was the actual misuse of money from the Eurobond where low and substandard equipment was installed and some of it has since knocked down hence this massive load shedding.
“If there was low rainfall, as they are claiming, the first companies that should have complained are water utility companies who would have gone into massive water rationing. But these are now forced to ration because of lack of electricity”, sources have revealed.
This county had a worse drought before in the 1990s when MMD came into power and was even forced to import yellow maize. The customer base for Zesco, especially in the industrial and manufacturing sectors has remained almost the same. That time we had companies like Lenco, ROPE, Kabwe Industrial fabrics, Kabwe Zinc mines, Dunlop, Vitafoam, Copper Harvest, Leon Brook Bond, Kafue Textiles, Nitrogen Chemicals etc all at full capacity but there was no such loadshedding.
The only new customers in the recent past have mainly been domestic which do not consume electricity.
Senior Zesco engineers are wondering what has happened to the citizens to fail to question government on such simple things.
This is July and obviously going into some of the driest months of the year. So what will happen in August, September, and the only time we probably expect some rains could be November God willing. So will the country ground to a halt all this time?