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Energy woes for Nkhata Bay DHO

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Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Escom) and Mayona Electrical Contractors are engaged in a blame game over an electrical fault on the internal grid of the newly constructed state-of-the-art Nkhata Bay District Hospital.

Mayona Electrical Contractors installed the wiring at the hospital.

The development has become a financial burden on the hospital, which is already operating on a lean budget, as it spends an unbudgeted for K6 millions on fuel expenses for its standby generator.

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Since its inauguration in May 2016, the hospital has had no stable power supply due to the fault, thereby putting the lives of patients in danger.

Nkhata Bay Hospital spokesperson Christopher Singini bemoaned the situation as the costs being incurred in fuel expenses are unbearable as the heavy duty generator consumes about 40 litres of diesel per hour.

By our calculations, a 10- hour outage per day due to the technical glitch translates to about K320,000 in back-up power supply.

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“This is very expensive. It’s actually not practical considering the amount of resources that we get from the central government. We need a contingency budget of over K6 million just to sustain power supply,” he said.

Nkhata Bay District Health Office gets an average monthly subvention of only K20 million against the required K60 million.

On whether they have reported the problem to Escom, Singini said: “Technicians based at the district told us the transformer has a problem and it needs replacing. We have waited in vain for over a year now.”

But Escom spokesperson George Mituka refuted the allegations, saying the internal installation at the hospital is faulty, consequently causing the transformer to disconnect frequently as a protective mechanism.

“The customer was advised to trace the fault since it is their responsibility but they haven’t managed to date. Escom’s responsibility to a fault ends at the meter,” said Mituka in an emailed response on Thursday.

However, Singini said Escom never communicated that their wiring was faulty.

Richard Longwe of Mayona Electrical Contractors has disputed Escom’s claim of faulty wiring.

“Tests prior to connecting the hospital to the grid would have exposed any such fault,” he said

Among the affected departments are the theatre, maternity wing and staff houses.

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