BOARDROOM fights and gross incompetence are partly responsible for the current power outages by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) which lacks capacity to generate enough electricity for the country, a former general manager of Hwange Power Station has said.
Noah Gwariro, currently suspended as head of Hwange Power Station, the biggest such facility in the country, said in a High Court application filed on October 5, infighting at Zesa and incompetent management were causing problems at the power utility.
Gwariro said since boardroom conflicts started at Hwange over control of the station, leading to his suspension in May, the station’s electricity generation capacity had diminished dramatically. He said staff morale has “hit rock bottom” due to poor management, hence the current problems.
“The station’s performance has drastically deteriorated under the leadership of stand-in managers. There has been an exodus of skilled manpower at all ranks,” Gwariro said.
“As a result of the incompetent stand-in managers and the de-motivating environment and severe brain drain the plant performance at Hwange is below 40% of capacity. Electricity consumers have lost property and incomes as a result of rampant load-shedding.”
Gwariro said Zesa’s corporate image has been “severely tarnished” due to its failure to deliver reliable service to customers. He said insurers had withdrawn cover on one of the station’s units and the situation had become chaotic since he and other senior managers were suspended.
“From mid 2001 to December 2002 the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) had an operations and maintenance contract with Eskom of South Africa for the running of Hwange Power Station,” he said.
“At the end of 2002 only two out of six units at Hwange Power Station were insured. Units 1,2,4 and 6 were running. Units 2,3,5 and 6 were not covered by insurance due to their unsafe condition. Unit 3 was on extended forced outage due to a generator transformer failure which had occurred in late 2002.
“Unit 2 was running with a generator stator fault, which precluded it from insurance cover. Unit 5 was on a major overhaul and had extensive damage which cracked low-pressure turbine blades. Coal milling plant and pulverised fuel pipe work on units 5 and 6 were worn out and presented serious fire and explosion hazards.”
Gwariro said despite repairs and refurbishments done beginning 2003, the situation has gone back to crisis levels.
“When I was suspended all six units were running. From an average monthly energy sent out of 350 gigawatt hours (GWH sent out) which corresponded to the production of six units the performance of Hwange Power Station has dropped to a monthly average of only 160 GWH sent out.
This is because two or three units are on average,” he said.