The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) sentiments that water levels in Shire River and Lake Malawi have dropped and further compounded its generation transmission capacities are not true, according to some quarters.
The Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) and Shire River Basin Management Programme have asked Escom to give proper reasons for the frequent and prolonged load shedding that the country is experiencing.
In a press statement issued on Monday, Escom warned its customers throughout the country that they will continue to experience intermittent power supply within the foreseeable future due to insufficient generation capacity.
But the Shire River Basin Management Programme which is overseeing an upgrading project, valued at US$50 million, at Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde said there has not been any change in flow of water in the river. The programme is currently controlling the flow of water in the river.
“The construction work will not affect the regulation in any way. The amount of release of water is the same as if construction was not taking place,” said Horace Nyaka, communications specialist for the programme.
Nyaka said all necessary measures have been put in place to avoid negative effects as is the case with any World Bank funded construction project.
He added: “This is totally not true at all. Escom would be able to explain the reasons for the blackouts as it has always done in the past in such events. For your information regulation is currently being done by Escom in collaboration with the Ministry.”
Consumer Association of Malawi (Cama) Executive Director John Kapito said Escom management has run out of ideas.
“What Escom is saying is a total lie. They don’t know what to say…They think they are dealing with babies. There’s nothing they can tell us after the floods that we had all of a sudden we have a drop of water in Shire River, yet we have not reached summer. This is still winter, the moisture is still on the ground,” said Kapito.
He said political leaders are wasting the country by taking every lame excuse given by Escom describing the power utility body as “stupid.”
“I don’t want to be a consumer politically right. They want to simply make us look stupid, when they are themselves. We know that the Shire River right now is at its highest, where has the water gone to and when did they know,” queried Kapito.
Escom Public Relations Manager Kitty Chingota asked for a questionnaire and was yet to respond by the end of business Thursday.
But in its statement Escom said the current water flow in the Shire as measured at Liwonde Barrage is 214 cubic metres per second (Cumecs) against the total required discharge of 261 Cumecs at Nkula, 274 Cumecs at Tedzani and 268 Cumecs at Kapichira hydro power station if all machines are running at full capacities.
The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment which was conducted prior to the commencement of the barrage upgrading works do not indicate any adverse impact to power generation.
The Shire River Basin Management Programme is conducting a three year project on the site.
According to site representative, Toney Nyasulu, the programme through their consultant engineers, Norplan A.S of Norway and contractors, Conduril Engenharia S.A of Portugal and CMC Di Ravenna of Italy, will be placing electronically operated gates but with a provision of manual operation in case of electrical failure at the barrage.
He said the old weed boom will be removed and replaced with a more robust and efficient one.
“A new bridge will be constructed downstream parallel to the existing bridge. This new bridge is designed to improve traffic circulation at the barrage. The new bridge will be used for vehicular traffic while the old one will be used for pedestrians, bicyclists and operation of the gates,” explained Nyasulu.
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