Lloyd Gumbo Senior Reporter—
THE State Procurement Board has put Hwange Thermal Power Station at the risk of closure by continuing to ignore calls to float a special tender to buy two transformers to replace existing ones that are in bad shape. Zimbabwe Power Company has written to the SPB in the last two months seeking to float the special formal tender to buy the transformers but there has not been any approval from the tender board.
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The effect of the forced closure of the thermal power station would be devastating to the country considering that power generation at Kariba Power Station is at its lowest owing to low water levels in Kariba Dam.
ZPC asked the SPB two months ago for a special formal tender for two transformers to replace existing ones, but there has not been any approval, posing a great risk to power generation.
In correspondence seen by The Herald, ZPC managing director Mr Noah Gwariro first wrote to the SPB on September 22, 2015 requesting that they be granted authority to float a special formal tender among 15 participating bidders within 14 days after advertising the tender in The Herald and Chronicle on July 30, 2015.
There was to be a compulsory site visit on August 17, 2015 before the tender closed on August 31, 2015 when 15 bids were received, but the tender was cancelled after they all failed to meet tender specifications.
“Failure to urgently replace the transformers poses great risk to the power station as failure on the transformers, as indicated by oil leaks, which can happen any time from now, will result in loss of power generation at Hwange Power Station,” said Mr Gwariro. “An analysis of transformer oil results carried out at Hwange Power Station indicates that 2 X 10MVA transformers for Unit 2 and 3 were in a bad state.
“A refurbishment of the 2 X MVA transformers was carried out as an interim measure. However, the refurbishment does not guarantee performance of the transformers and they need urgent replacement.” Mr Gwariro said given the water problems experienced at Kariba South Power Station, there was need to sustain Hwange Thermal Power Station’s generation capacity.
He requested permission to do the tender and conclude it at ZPC and only report on the results to the SPB. SPB principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete responded to Mr Gwariro letter on September 25, 2015 asking for various documents, among them copies of the tender advertisement, tender opening minutes, bid documents, procurement committee meeting minutes and evaluation report showing comparative schedules with detailed reasons for disqualification or acceptance.
Mr Gwariro wrote to the SPB on October 6, 2015 requesting the board to urgently conclude the matter. “The test results show that the current running transformers can fail any time and delays in availing replacement transformers will result in losing power generation at Hwange Power Station,” he said.
“Given the current acute power shortage bedevilling the country, loss of power generation at Hwange Power Station will cause worse load shedding to business and households.” Mr Gwariro wrote again on October 19, 2015 complaining about the delays at the SPB that saw the board requesting that the company conducts a pre-bid conference for the tender.
“We would like to advise that after submitting our urgent request for a special formal tender for the above mentioned requirement on the 22nd of September 2015, despite numerous follow-ups you returned the tender document on 16 October 2015, almost a month from date of submission,” he said.
“Despite the urgency we have indicated, we have noted that you returned the tender document recommending a pre-bid conference for the tender. In our view, a pre-bid conference is not necessary as all the participating bidders attended a site meeting at Hwange Power Station and familiarised with site.
“Participating bidders also attended a de-briefing meeting held at ZPC Head Office where they were taken through their shortcomings. We, therefore, feel that there will not be anything new to present or discuss with the bidders which was not covered by the two meetings mentioned above.
“We would also like to bring to your attention that the valid tax clearance certificate has no material effect as no bidder was affected by this requirement. The main reasons for non-compliance by bidders were technical issues. We, therefore, request for your quick resolution of this matter.”