Felex Share Senior Reporter
The expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station has gathered momentum with the Zimbabwe Power Company and the contractor, Sinohydro of China pooling together $3 million to kick start pre-commencement works on site.
One of the mega power deals President Mugabe sealed in China last August, the $1,1 billion Hwange project will see two units, with capacity to generate 600MW, being constructed.
Progress has also been made towards the construction of a new 42 kilometre water pipeline from Deka Pump Station on the Zambezi River to the Hwange Power Station at a cost of $28,6 million.
Funding for the project, which is aimed at enhancing water supply to the water station, has been secured from India Exim Bank.
Briefing Energy and Power Development Minister Dr Samuel Undenge and his deputy Tsitsi Muzenda during a tour of the Hwange Power Station last week, ZPC managing director Engineer Noah Gwariro said the $3 million would enable the contractor to mobilise on site for initial works while the two parties finalised funding for the project.
“We have paid $1 million and Sinohydro has come up with $2 million because we agreed that we have to do some activities upfront so that when funding is released there will not be any delays on the project,” he said.
“The pre-commencement works will cut the time frame because we have seen that we will lose over a year if we wait for the financial closure.”
Eng Gwariro said the contractor would move on site in the coming days.
“The agreement was that the contractor would move on site after 60 days of signing of the contract and the contract was signed on October 10 last year and they will be on site anytime from now.
“The generation licence and the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate have already been secured and the FIDIC silver book, where the contractor does the full design, procurement, construction and commissioning of the project, was adopted and ZPC will take over the plant after commissioning.”
Eng Gwariro said in line with Government empowerment programmes, the contractor would not bring more labour.
“We have made a decision on the need to use input from the locals following an outcry we have had on the expansion project underway in Kariba,” he said.
“Local contractors and labour would be used in some cases and we have told them not to bring any labour below the grade of supervisors. This means artisans and even some supervisors will be locals.
“In terms of challenges we owe our creditors more than $100 million and in buying our spares, most companies need cash upfront before taking our orders and this is affecting the reliability of the plant.”
On the Deka project, Eng Gwariro said the community would also derive maximum benefits from the project with water points being provided to those living along the pipeline and the Hwange town.
Dr Undenge said energy was vital factor in the successful implementation of the Government economic blue print, Zim-Asset and ZESA should ensure there is increased power generation.
“I am highly impressed that something is taking place here because the generation of power has improved from 2013 to 2014 and we expect more this year,” he said.
“Without energy, industry will collapse and this is the reason why we are saying energy is a critical factor in the economic blue print. The Deka project is commendable in view of the two additional units to be built here. It is our hope that other power project in the pipeline will soon consummate and work will start on the sites.”