Nkula workers on strike


As Malawians continue to endure lengthy power outages, rehabilitation works at Nkula A Hydro Plant, which are meant to improve power generation capacity, have halted, generating fears that blackouts would continue.
This follows a strike at Mota Engil, the company undertaking rehabilitation works at the plant with funding from the Millennium Challenge Account Compact Programme.
The objective of the rehabilitation project is to modernise, rehabilitate and upgrade the existing hydropower plant from the current 24 Megawatts (MW) to 36MW, adding an additional 12MW to the grid.
The project is expected to ease the electricity supply crisis which has crippled Malawi’s economy and affected many households.
Some of the workers at the site told The Daily Times that they are demanding an increase in salaries, housing allowance and lunch upkeep.
“We have been complaining about these things for months now but the bosses don’t seem to mind. We then thought of mobilising ourselves to strike,” said one worker who sought anonymity.
On Wednesday last week, labour officers were asked to mediate in the issue. However, a meeting on the matter yielded nothing.
Mota Engil spokesperson, Thomas Chafunya, said discussions between Mota Engil officials and the employees were underway.
“We are on schedule and there are discussions on the issues that the workers have raised. It’s an issue between employer and employee which I know we will be able to resolve effectively”, Chafunya said.
Electricity Generation Company spokesperson, Moses Gwaza, assured The Daily Times that the strike would not affect current power output as Nkula Power Plant A operations were stopped due to rehabilitation works.
When asked whether a speedy completion of the works at the site would ease the current power outages, Gwaza said he hoped the Mota Engil management would act swiftly.
“We hope that the management can sort out [the] issues as soon as possible because they have an obligation to meet the deadline. We also hope that the strike will not affect the set date for the completion of the rehabilitation works,” Gwaza said.
Rehabilitation works at Nkula started in April this year and are expected to end by July 2018. It remains to be seen whether the sit-in by the workers will affect the schedule.
The contract for the rehabilitation, upgrading and modernisation of the power plant was awarded to Andritz Hydro of Austria in a joint venture with Mota Engil of Portugal on September 29 2015 to the tune of $45 million.

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