The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Municipal Reporter
THE Bulawayo City Council has vowed not to grant a development licence to Zimbabwe Power Company for the refurbishment of the Bulawayo Power Station as the impasse between the two continues to escalate.
The local authority has further revealed they are in the process of seeking a court interdict to bar ZPC from demolishing two cooling towers at the power station as part of the rehabilitation process.
Speaking on the sidelines of a stakeholders meeting on Friday, Bulawayo Mayor, Councillor Solomon Mguni said the power utility should first acknowledge that the power station belonged to the local authority, this meaning ZPC had to approach them if any development of demolitions were to take place.
Clr Mguni later led Bulawayo councillors in walking out of the temperamental meeting that was presided over by Energy and Power Development Minister Fortune Chasi.
The mayor accused the power utility of handling the issue in bad faith as it continued with plans to demolish the towers despite there being a court case to determine ownership of the power station.
“The truth is we will not be granting ZPC any development licence, if they want to go ahead with the demolitions of the two towers and refurbishment of the power station, they can do so but they will be doing it illegally.
“We have also instructed our lawyers to seek a court interdict barring them from demolishing our two towers.
“What is mind boggling is that these people are negotiating with us in bad faith, while they are saying they will soon approach us to inform us on these intended refurbishments they have gone ahead to advertise a tender for the demolishing of the two towers, of which they tell us they will be bringing the towers down in three months,” said Clr Mguni.
Minister Chasi pleaded with the local authority to approach the matter with sober minds noting that the bigger picture was on increasing power generation in the country.
“I am here to apologise on behalf of my children, yes, they erred in the manner they handled this issue.
“When I first was made aware of the issue, it was last week and I asked the ZPC officials whether they had informed the Resident Minister (Cde Judith Ncube) or the mayor, of which they said no.
“I immediately rebuked them and I am rebuking them once more, which is why I asked for this meeting so that we iron out our differences.
“All we need is to set aside our differences and move forward. As you all know I am the minister responsible for power generation therefore this is a matter so dear in my heart.
“Right now the mayor and his councillors have walked out of this crucial meeting, and I don’t blame him because clearly he is angry. I will personally look for him, talk with him and ensure we resolve this impasse,” said Minister Chasi.
Meanwhile, addressing residents who had gathered outside the power station, in anticipation of the minister’s visit, Minister Chasi said he was aware of the impasse between the two authorities on the payment of royalties for the use of the power station.
He said he would play a mediating role, advocating that the matter be solved out of court, saying his ministry would further endorse a payment plan by the power utility on the matter.
“I think this fight is not necessary at all, what is needed is for the two parties to sit down and draw up a payment plan, my ministry is prepared to guarantee any such plan because at the end of the day we all need water and electricity which these two authorities govern over,” he said.
According to Zesa Holding’s website the Bulawayo Power Station is connected to the national grid through the 11 kilo-voltage and 33 kilo-voltage systems.
“The plant was commissioned between 1947 and 1957 as an undertaking by the Municipality of Bulawayo.
“It joined the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority in 1987 after the amalgamation of all the Local Authority Electricity Undertakings, the Electricity Supply Commission power station at Munyati and Hwange, and the Central African Power Corporation station at Kariba.
“While Bulawayo Power Station initially had an installed capacity of 120 megawatts, a refurbishment exercise in 1999 on the ageing plant gave it a new lease of life.
“The station capacity is now 90 megawatts. The main materials needed for the generation of electricity are coal, water, chemicals, oil, greases and spare parts for maintenance.
“The station currently generates an average of 30 megawatts,” reads part of the citation.
The Bulawayo Thermal Power Station became part of Zesa in 1987 after the amalgamation of all the Local Authority Electricity Undertakings.
The power utility to date owes the local authority over $100 million in royalties.