By SILUMESI MALUMO
UPND president Hakainde Hichilema should stop misleading the nation as there is nothing sinister at Zesco and all the money the company received from the Eurobond allocation was used prudently, Board chairman, Mbita Chitala has said.
Contrary to Mr Hichilema assertions, Dr Chitala said the company utilised US$186 million Eurobond for construction of Kafue Gorge Lower and US$69 million for improving distribution of power for 40 power stations from the US$255 million allocated to Zesco from the US$750 million Eurobond which government contracted in 2013.
“There is nothing sinister at Zesco as the money the company received from the Eurobond allocation was used prudently, board Chairperson Mbita Chitala has said.
Dr Chitala urged Mr Hichilema to offer constructive criticism on the issue of load shedding and desist from misinformation.
He said Mr Hichilema was aware of the happenings at Kariba Dam and he should be the one to give the nation right information than misleading the public.
He also said the continued load shedding is because the power utility company is generating 275 mega watts instead of normal 1080 megawatts due to low water which has been allocated by Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) due to low water levels which Kariba Dam received from its catchment areas.
Dr Chitala who is a former Deputy Finance Minister, said the power utility company utilised the funds prudently on a number of projects to improve power generation.
He said in an exclusive interview yesterday in Lusaka, the Kafue Gorge Lower being constructed at a cost of US$2.3 billion, would cushion power deficit which stands at 810 megawatts once completed.
He said Zesco was expected to commission the first unit on September 9, 2020 which would be able to generate about 150 megawatts.
Dr Chitala said the utility company would then commission the entire project by the end of this year and start generating about 750 megawatts which would reduce power deficit being faced in the country.
He was reacting to United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema who described Zesco as “biggest problem” which had contributed to the dwindling of the economy because of its continued load shedding.
Mr Hichilema wondered why Zesco had failed to improve power generations in the country when it was one of the beneficiaries of the biggest chunk of the borrowed Eurobond.
He called for a serious audit to ascertain whether the money which was allocated to the utility company was prudently used or misappropriated.
“Zesco stories of continuing with electricity load shedding at a time economic activities that consume lots of power have scaled down, does not add up.
“We have in mind the scaling down of operations in the mining sector, which should have resulted in more electricity power for other sectors, including domestic consumers, especially at this time when our citizens are mainly working from homes,” he said.
But Dr Chitala said the power utility was on the right path to ensure that the challenges being faced were eradicated by putting up a number of power plants such as the Kafue Gorge Lower.
“What we have done is that almost 96 percent of all the money has already been disbursed to this set of projects, namely US$186 million has already gone into Kafue Gorge Lower project. This is a very big project which will cost US $2,3 billion.
So far in that project we have already spent US$988 million and the project is at 96 percent to completion only a few things are remaining. In fact I have been well informed that we hope to commission the first unit on September 9 this year. But I am sure we shall start testing by end of July this year.
“They have been delays of course in this project because by now we should have been producing 750 megawatts but because of COVID 19 which has made the works to slow down,” he said
Dr Chitala however said US$69 million which was allocated to Zesco from Euro Bond was spent on 40 projects to improve power distribution.
Some of the projects include construction of Mwembeshi and Coventry sub stations, Kafue Green Field, replacement of Kafue 11 KV, replacement of LHL 33 KV, power evacuation of Zesco workshops, replacement of Avondale 11 KV, construction of Zesco substations.
Others include construction of Heroes stadium and Levy Mwanawansa stadium switch stations, upgrade of Ngwerere substation, construction of Makeni switch station, construction of Katuba substation, among others.
Meanwhile, Dr Chitala has said the low rainfall in catchment areas was beyond Zesco and that this had contributed to continued load shedding.
He said the power utility was supposed to generate about 1080 megawatts but only 275 megawatts was being generated due to low water levels at Kariba dam.
By SILUMESI MALUMO