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Government heaps blame on syndicates, negligence

UNHAPPY—Matola (third right) makes his point at the press briefing

Minister of Energy Ibrahim Matola yesterday warned against negligence, incompetence and sabotage in the operations of two power utility companies, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and Electricity Generation Company (Egenco), amid persistent power outages in the country.

Matola made the remarks while addressing journalists in Lilongwe yesterday where he also blamed the crisis on what he said was mismanagement of resources by previous administrations.

“What is happening is that someone is sleeping on duty. We have broken systems. It’s a chain of syndicates. Just imagine if we can audit how many people died in hospitals during that week of national blackouts,” Matola said.

He warned that government will smoke out all persons found to be incompetent and negligent in fulfilling their mandate of producing and supplying power to the masses.

He also said the ministry will undertake a study on the impact and benefits of unbundling Escom.

The briefing followed a series of meetings he had with boards and management of Egenco and Escom following shutdowns that frustrated the nation last weekend.

Egenco Chief Executive Officer William Liabunya said Kapichira power station, which officials say is the main cause of the blackouts, is expected to be up and running by December 22, 2022 as the contractor will commence ground work on September 24 this year.

The power station was damaged by Tropical Storm Ana in January this year, leading to a loss of 129MW.

“The contractor is also the one who is undertaking activities at Shire Valley Transformation Programme. All designs will be done by September, 2022,” he said.

Liabunya said with the unbundling of the power market, the generation company has been able to rehabilitate major power stations and currently it is sourcing funds to rehabilitate Kapichira 2 to increase efficiency.

Escom Chief Executive Officer Kamukwamba Kumwenda said what Escom needs is a baseload which, he said, has been worsened by the damage of Kapichira power station.

In April, government also terminated a contract with Aggreko Limited which was supplying 78 MW through its generators.

Apart from the fact-finding mission which Matola conducted last week, Parliament, through relevant committees, also summoned all concerned parties in the generation and supply of power in the country to probe operations of the power utility companies and the challenges they are facing.

According to Egenco, Malawi has a total installed generation capacity of 441.95MW, with 390.55MW from hydro power plants and 51.4MW from thermal power plants.

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