ZPC engineers, technicians resign en masse

Delays in completion of the Hwange Expansion Project Unit 7 and 8 have cost the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) skilled engineers who have sought greener pastures because of uncertainty about their future at the company.

Construction of the two plants at Hwange Power Station commenced in 2018 and most skilled workers were given three-year contracts.

The project has missed its deadline by more than a year and 43 engineers and technicians have reportedly left.

Authorities have said this has affected the implementation of the project.

Speaking in Hwange recently, Hwange Unit 7 and 8 expansion project manager Forbes Chanakira appealed to Matabeleland North Minister of State Richard Moyo for government support in retaining skilled workers.

“The project has been affected by challenges and one of them is skills flight. There is serious skills flight due to uncertainty on contract renewal as project monitors have left after contracts ended in April.

“We continue to lose skills, particularly on the Zimbabwe Power Company, ZETDC side that are monitoring the project, many people are leaving for greener pastures. To date, Hwange Expansion Project recorded 43 resignations and 25 prospective employees turned down contracts. It is a reality that needs to be looked into to ensure that we retain critical skills for our future projects,” said Chanakira.

He told Minister Moyo that there is a need to address contract renewal in time to curb job insecurity.

Chanakira said besides brain drain, other challenges on the project has been the changes in legislation such as the promulgation of Statutory Instruments 205 of 2018 and 33 of 2019 which had a direct effect on the project cost and affected the release of funds and exchange rates.

The company also fears that the crime rate will increase in Hwange once the project is completed and more than 3 000 workers get laid off.

“We fear that the crime rate will increase. About 3 000 people are earning more than US$500 per month and so when the project finishes and that suddenly stops, we will start laying off workers and this may increase the crime rate,” added Chanakira while appealing to the police to be on the lookout.

Unit 7 which will inject 300MW to the grid is over 97 percent complete and ready to be commissioned in November.

Unit 8 with a similar capacity will be completed next year.

The whole project costs US$1.4 billion and is funded through a joint venture between Sino Hydro Mauritius and ZPC.

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