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Consumers protest blackouts

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Traders in Blantyre’s Central Business District and Limbe are protesting power cuts that the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) is implementing in their areas which they claim can reach up to 14 hours in some instances.

Escom recently said it is load shedding close to 115 megawatts of power on a daily basis due to reduced amount of electricity made available for distribution from Electricity Generation Company Limited (Engenco) to customers.

Engenco, however, said customers should expect to have stable power supply during times of frequent rainfalls in the southern region rather than times of erratic or no rainfall.

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But the traders are calling on Escom to find a lasting solution to the power shortfalls insisting that the current situation is causing loss of business.

Random interviews in Limbe’s central business area found that business operators are now forced to pass on the cost of running generators to consumers.

One of the traders, Issa Ajibu, said the power blackouts are affecting his business.

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“Our area has been hardest hit by load-shedding. When we come in the morning, we find there is no power up to the time we finish our business for the day. In the absence of Escom power, we resort to using generators,” he said.

He said the situation has forced many business operators to increase prices of their goods and services to recoup costs.

“We know the country is facing power challenges, but we feel things are getting worse,” Ajibu said.

Another victim, Arthur Gondwe, said there is need for Escom to explain to the nation the rationale behind the extensive power cuts.

“Power goes out at 4 a.m. and comes back at 10 p.m., what does this mean? What will somebody like me be doing with power at 10 p.m.? Is Escom trying to tell us that we should be up at night doing our chores that require electricity and sleep doing the day?” Gondwe queried.

But according to a statement from Engenco, water levels in Lake Malawi are still low and have further reduced by 1.5 metres above sea level to 473.0 masl as of December last year.

The required level for Engenco to generate power to maximum capacity is 474.5 masl.

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