Coronavirus affects Hwange power station refurbishment

By Judith Sibanda

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in China has stalled the refurbishment of Hwange Thermal Power Station as the delivery of some of the materials from that country has been put on hold due to travel restrictions.

Sinohydro Corporation entered into a US$1.4 billion deal with the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) to construct Hwange 6,7 and 8 units.

Once complete, the project is expected to add 600 megawatts of electricity in the national grid.

 The project manager Forbes Chanakira told CITE on the sidelines of a tour of the power station on Thursday that their main focus is unit 7 in order to ease electricity shortages. 

“Currently we have done the main power building which will house the turbines and generators and completed construction of chimneys so now we are working on the cooling tower for the main power building,” he said.

“We have finished the foundation and we are also working on the boiler structure and platforms for the housing of equipment related to the boiler among other works.

“Our main focus is unit 7 because it is the one which is going to start up early around April 2021 for final commissioning and commercial operations in October 2021 and unit 8 is expected to also start the process of commissioning around July or August and the final commissioning and commercial operation in the grid in January in 2022.”

However, Chanakira bemoaned the outbreak of Coronavirus in China which has stopped the shipment of some of the materials need in the project.

Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in charge of Implementation and Monitoring Joram Gumbo said they expect the project to increase the capacity of the country’s largest thermal power plant.

“Excavations and site levelling, design reviews as well as transmission and distribution and geo-tech works has been done, but unfortunately because of the coronavirus some of the materials for further construction is going to be delayed coming in,” he said.

“The management reported that one of the companies in China which is supposed to be providing most of the materials required is facing some delays in procurement of those materials coming into the country, but because this is a global virus we are concerned a lot but be that as it may, the engineers are very confident that irrespective of all those huge challenges they will be able to complete this project.”

Gumbo said the project was the evidence of the commitment by the government to invest in energy infrastructure in order to ensure energy security.

As part of the 100-day cycle, Gumbo urged the energy ministry to revamp renewable energy projects and put some into implementation.

“Zimbabweans in all the ten provinces and communities are no longer interested in promises but in visible and tangible results that impact positively on the livelihoods. It must never be the case that the developmental interests of the people are compromised because those mandated to implement government programmes have not adopted a serious approach or have completely abdicated their responsibilities. It is, therefore, our collective responsibility to ensure that we make the best use of available resources for the betterment of our people.”

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