Malawians should brace for a dark festive season following the loss of 100 megawatts (mw) of power from the national grid, which is likely to lead to increased cases of power rationing in the country.
The country’s power generator, Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) announced Monday evening that it has shut down its Nkula B Power Station due to the bursting of a bypass-pipe in one of the five machines at the station.
This means that the country’s power supply will have a shortfall of 35mw during peak-hour, which will enable Electricity Supply of Malawi to implement a modified load shedding programme during the festive season.
Speaking in an interview, Consumers Association of Malawi Executive Director John Kapito expressed sadness with the development, indicating that this shows levels of incompetence on the part of Egenco.
“I have always been saying that there is negligence and lack of maturity at Egenco. I said it last week that, as we approach the festive season, we will hear an excuse from Egenco and this is a norm that we get every Christmas. The pipe cannot burst on its own, it only shows that there is lack of inspection and lack of repairing,” Kapito fumed.
A statement from Escom has indicated that they have remained with 275MW of power against the demand of 310MW which has forced them to formulate a load shedding program which has started yesterday during peak hours.
Escom Spokesperson Innocent Chitosi insisted in an interview, however, that even though they are running short of power supply, they will make sure that people have enough power during the season.
“This is an emergency but our aim is that the festive season should not be disturbed because of the situation and we are assuring our customers that we are working hand in hand with Egenco to rectify the problem in good time,” Chitosi said.
A separate statement from Egenco said that the power plant has been shut to prevent flooding of the station, further damage to the rest of the machines, and to allow for repairs.
“Meanwhile, investigations to establish the cause of the burst and works to repair the bypass pipe are underway. We will keep the public updated once preliminary works and assessment of the extent of damage is complete,” the statement reads.
When asked about the period the repairing works could take, Egenco spokesperson Moses Gwaza said they needed to assess the damage first.
“We cannot tell [you about] the period currently because we are still assessing the damage. So, once we are done [with that], we will be able to tell [you]. I should also add that this has not happened because of negligence because the country has seen a stable power supply this year and this is just an emergency which will be solved with speed,” Gwaza said.
Malawi runs through a dark festive season most of the years as power demand peaks up during the period.
The public was expecting a different story this year at the back of stable power supply this year.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.