From George Maponga in Masvingo
Government is working flat out to ensure that Masvingo city’s sole heavy industry SIMBI Pvt Ltd resumes operations after identifying Muzhwi Dam in northern Chivi as an alternative water source.
SIMBI stopped operations at its plant in the Masvingo industrial area early last month, owing to crippling power cuts blamed on load shedding by power utility Zesa.
The firm also faced severe water shortages because of constricted supply from Masvingo City Council, which lacks sufficient capacity.
The sponge-iron manufacturer told Government of its capability to produce 20 megawatts of electricity at its SIMBI plant with one of the key provisos being availability of adequate water.
Now Government wants the company to have guaranteed water supply to expand into power production with the output enough to feed the whole of Masvingo province.
Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said Government was working flat out to make sure SIMBI reopens.
He said consultations were underway for the firm to work closely with Zinwa so that a permanent solution to biting water woes was found.
“They (SIMBI) informed us about stoppage of operations at their plant because of power problems and I have since contacted the responsible Minister (Fortune Chasi) to brief him about the issue so that a solution is found and they are able to restart operations.”
“SIMBI is very important to the Masvingo economy and we are working flat out to make sure they reopen. It is also important to note that the company’s plant can also produce more than 20MW of power if enough water is available,” he said.
Minister Chadzamira said the power will be enough to run the sponge iron plant while surplus will be fed onto the national grid.
“We have ordered Zinwa to work with SIMBI so that they devise ways of drawing water from Muzhwi Dam for use at the plant. The water will be enough for cooling purposes and also power production and we are optimistic that a breakthrough will be found to enable them to restart operations,” said Minister Chadzamira.
SIMBI, which is an acronym for Sponge Iron Mining and Beneficiation Industries is a subsidiary of Kwekwe-based Steelmakers which is one of the country’s largest producers of steel.