Bulawayo residents have reacted angrily to reports that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) was planning to demolish the iconic Bulawayo Cooling Towers, as part of plans to upgrade the power stations.
The iconic towers, commissioned between 1947 and 1957 and the bustling industry gave birth to Bulawayo’s second name “Kontuthu Ziyathunqa”.
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the power utility did not have such authority since the power station belonged to the Bulawayo City Council (BCC).
“This is just a side show. The power station belongs to Bulawayo City Council and they have to give it back to the municipality.
“We know the title deeds they have are fake, so we have assembled a team of lawyers, working with the City Council, to find closure to the issue,” said Ndlovu.
He suggested instead of demolishing, ZESA should turn the towers into monuments, like in Johannesburg where the Orlando towers were converted into a tourist attraction .
Contacted for comment, BCC Public Relations Officer Bongiwe Ngwenya said the local authority was not aware of such developments.
“The City of Bulawayo is not aware of ZESA’s intentions as we have not been consulted on the matter,” said Ngwenya.
ZESA spokesperson Fullard Gwasira, however, said the parastal was upgrading not demolishing the towers.
“Zesa wants to upgrade Bulawayo power station from the current 18MW to 90MW by changing the chain grate technology to fluidized one.
“Upgrade requires a bigger cooling tower and because there is no space for a new cooling tower, these two will have to be removed to make way for one big tower,” explained Gwasira.
The development comes at a time when the country has been experiencing acute power shortages with the power utility embarking on a load shedding schedule with some households going for 16 hours without electricity.