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IN a surprise move for a government which believes it is under siege from foreign enemies, a cabinet minister has ordered power cuts on army and police bases as the country struggles with a debilitating electricity supply crisis.
“Security cantonments (ZNA and ZRP) shall be requested to voluntarily load shed non-critical and residential loads as army and police institutions so as to share the burden,” energy minister Samuel Undenge told Parliament Tuesday.
Unable to produce enough electricity to meet its needs and without the money to import from neighbours, Zimbabwe has struggled with power supply problems for years.
But the crisis has worsened in recent days with households forced onto load-shedding schedules that see many around the country going for up to 18 hours without power each day.
Government blames the crisis on low water levels at Kariba Dam which have reduced generation capacity at Kariba Power Station from 750 MW to 475 MW.
However, the country has also neglected investing in increasing capacity since independence in 1980. Generation usually peaks at 1,200 MW against daily demand in excess of 2,000WM.
Meanwhile, Undenge also urged a 25 percent cut on supplies to the country’s major mining companies which will worsen the prospects for the country’s faltering economy.
“Noting that there are some large users of power such as Mimosa, Unki, Zimplats, Zimasco, Zim Alloys and Afrochine; these are to be asked by ZETDC to drop load by up to 25 percent on the basis of existing contracts.
“It would be up to these large power users to decide on which areas of their operations to load-shed. This is expected to yield 25MW,” Undenge said.
And with probably just a couple of months remaining before the rainy season, the cash-strapped administration will have to find money to import fertilizer after Undenge effectively ordered a halt in production at Sable Chemicals.
He said the 40 MW currently supplied to the Kwekwe-based company will be diverted to domestic users.
“The 40 MW currently being availed to Sable Chemicals will be diverted to residential areas in order to reduce quantum of power loads being shed,” said the minister.
“This alone would reduce Harare’s load shedding to about six hours. It must be noted that the Sable Chemicals power account now stands at $150 million in debt.
“This is a burden which ZETDC is currently carrying on its own at a time when their revenues are expected to dwindle.
“It is conceded that local production of ammonium nitrate would stop as a result of this action. The product would have to be imported.” By UK Agencies.source-newzimbabwe
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