Escom says power outages to persist
Cyclone Freddy’s impact has been felt hard on the electricity supply side as State-run Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) says it needs “a few weeks more” to assess the damage and restore supply to pre-cyclone levels.
On the other hand, Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) says the cyclone effect on its generation machines remained minimal.
Over 72 hours of non-stop rains and heavy winds caused floods and mudslides which had damaged power lines, roads and farmlands and livestock in about 10 districts of the Southern Region.
Giving an update on the energy situation in a live television broadcast on TTV on Wednesday, Escom Chief Executive Officer Kamkwamba Kumwenda said the firm is yet to assess the extent of the damage to determine infrastructure that could be re-used or replaced.
He added that most of the areas which are going for days without electricity may have been affected by damaged feeder infrastructure such as poles and transformers to such areas.
“We have been dealt a heavy blow by the disaster. A lot of our poles and transformers have fallen, which has increased cases of vandalism and theft of our infrastructure. We are waiting for the rains to stop so that we can go around the affected areas to determine the extent of the damage,” Kumwenda said.
Egenco Chief Executive Officer William Liabunya said machines have not been greatly affected as engineers were able to shut them down before the cyclone could any havoc.
“Out of our 15 machines, we have 12 that are okay to run. We only shut them down to prevent them from being damaged by the huge pressure from the increased waster volumes and debris.
“If the water level reduces and we remove all the debris, we should be able to go back to pre-cyclone generation capacity within three days. Currently we are able to run machines at intervals giving us over 150 megawatts (mw) but once the water level normalises, we should be able to generate over 200mw,” Liabunya said.
In a recent interview, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Lekani Katandula said there will be a significant adverse impact on the private sector due to intermittent power supply, road cuts and property damage affecting some businesses, staff and customers.