ZESA warns of mining threat to critical substation

ZESA Holdings has raised serious concerns about mining activities taking place near the Marvel Substation in Bulawayo.

This substation is critical for distributing electricity to the city, the country, and parts of the southern African region.

The power utility warns that these mining activities could cause the substation’s building to collapse and destroy electrical equipment, potentially plunging the country and region into darkness.

Marvel Substation reportedly supplies power to facilities serving a population of around two million people across Bulawayo, Matabeleland South, and North provinces.

Critical infrastructure like Ncema Water Works (supplying water to Bulawayo), Turk Mine, How Mine, Fernhill Water Works, and the entire City of Bulawayo rely on this substation.

According to informed sources, the mining is being conducted by a group with “political connections” who are disregarding ZESA’s warnings about the dangers of mining near the substation.

The issue has been brought to the attention of local governance and security structures in Bulawayo as part of efforts to address the situation.

Sources familiar with the matter told CITE that the mining operations pose a “huge” threat to electricity provision.

“Marvel Substation connects all power stations in Bulawayo and surrounding areas. It is linked to other regions of the country and the whole of South Africa via the Insukamini Substation,” they explained.

The sources further stated that blasting from the mining activities poses a significant risk to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company’s (ZETDC) operations and substation infrastructure. Any damage could result in power outages for Bulawayo and surrounding areas.

“These mining explosions threaten the infrastructure and could disrupt electricity supply not only in Bulawayo but also across Zimbabwe and the region,” a source said. “Those mining at the location have been warned of the potential harm, yet they continue their activities.”

Safety regulations specify restricted zones around power lines to prevent disruptions. Mining blasts can cause circuit breakers to trip, and vibrations can damage substation electronics.

Sources added that the substation’s equipment and machinery could also be “destroyed,” and underground shafts could create weak ground, potentially causing the substation buildings to collapse.

ZETDC’s Engineering Manager, Engineer Proud Mundenda, referred inquiries to ZESA Holdings’ Stakeholder Relations Communication and Welfare Dr. George Manyaya.

Dr Manyaya then directed queries to ZETDC’s acting public relations officer, Alaina Suliwa.

Suliwa requested written questions and had not responded by the time of publication.

Insiders also expressed concern about the risk of electrocution for substation staff if the infrastructure is damaged by voltage interference.

“The country and the region could be plunged into darkness if the equipment fails,” a source said. “Replacing the infrastructure is expensive, and such a failure could stall expansion projects.”

Furthermore, sources claim that the breakdown of the Marvel substation could jeopardize Zimbabwe’s energy security and trade commitments with other members of the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP), a cooperative body of Southern African national electricity companies under the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

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  1. Linjani
    Would you be able to put this article on your Facebook page

    Cannot contain my utter belief a Bulawayo Councillor of Proportional Represenatative Asking residents to pay in USD when the Environment is not being protected she has a lot of questions to answer and the Councillor needs to be interviewed by CITE??

  2. Zesa needs to contact the Enviornment Management Agency and find out how they could assist.

    CITE needs to interview ZESA, the Enviornment Management Agency and the Councillor of Proportional Represenation including the Law Enforcement on what measures are to be put in place ??
    How reckless the place is becomiing with illegal mining activities destroying the enviornment

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