The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is still insisting that its controversial decision to demolish two of Bulawayo’s iconic cooling towers is a security measure to protect the public and infrastructure as the structures have outlived their lifespan.
Presenting at a stakeholders meeting held jointly by the power company and ministry of energy and power development, Engineer Fari Mavhondo, plant refurbishment Manager said the structures were now nearing 62 years instead of the recommended 30 years and now pose as a danger to the public.
“The decision to implement the repowering process is determined by the conditions of the environment where the power station is located,” said Mavhondo.
“A direct extract from a report done on the assessment of the redundant cooling towers says the collapse of the cooling towers would cause the destruction of adjacent structures especially the adjacent cooling tower number 3.”
The ZPC engineer noted that the two cooling towers over the years had developed walls and cracks weakening their ability to withstand harsh weather conditions and natural disasters.
“In case of natural disasters for example a cyclone, such weak structures would cause loss of human life which is the most disastrous effect that can emanate from such. Also, structures and buildings around these towers wouldn’t be safe if they accidentally collapsed,” he said.
Eng Mavhondo said the demolition would not completely rid the iconic view as there would still be four more towers standing.
Eng Mavhondo explained that this rehabilitation process is not only affecting the Bulawayo power station but several others around the country.
“ZPC embarked on this rehabilitation process as means of meeting the country’s power demand. We are facing excruciating power shortages as a nation and if this is not immediately resolved then the future is surely dark for us,” explained Mavhondo.
He said huge power stations such as Hwange are still operating below capacity hence are undergoing the same process together with Harare and Munyati.
Some of the expected benefits of the rehabilitation process listed by ZPC include less load shedding, creation of employment, saving of foreign currency as here would be no importation of power and improved way of life due to sufficient power (especially hospitals and industries) which would lead to increased economic growth.
Minister of power and energy Advocate Fortune Chasi pleaded with the stakeholders to consider the positivity likely to be brought by the change.
“This power station is supposed to be generating 90 megawatts but there is only an output 30 megawatts. Automatically that means there is loss of $120 million worth of power,” said the Minister.
He said generation of more power would lure more investors into the city.” Bulawayo is possibly struggling to attract investors because of power shortages. No one would want to settle their business where there is no reliable power for production,” said Adv Chasi.