THE increased load shedding of electricity that Zambians will be subjected to because of low water levels due to poor rains this year is due to the Patriotic Front (PF) government’s failure to plan well, UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has charged.
But PF Vice Chairperson for Media and Publicity committee Sunday Chanda has said no Government has monopoly over climatic and weather conditions considering that Zambia has historically been dependent on hydro-electricity and not on other sources of energy such as nuclear, thermal or coal, among others. Mr. Hichilema said in his Weekly Policy issue yesterday that the electricity generation system had come under severe strain due to maintenance backlogs.
He said UPND would promote and ensure accountability in Zesco’s investment infrastructure to ensure value for every Kwacha invested if voted into power in 2016 general elections. He said the electricity generation system has come under severe strain due to maintenance backlogs and a failure to bring new generating capacity on-time to match economic and social development demand, heading Zambia to darker days.
“Zambia loses over US$9,000 revenue per minute of a mine not having power. The entire economy loses US$36,000 for every minute that we have a power outage. This is what Zesco and the major shareholder, Government, do not realize,” He said.
But Mr. Chanda said unless Mr. Hichilema was a rain-maker, Zesco would increase load shedding as no government could counter natural climatic conditions.
He said the PF government was already working on modalities to arrest the situation by promoting diversification in the energy sector.
“Unless Mr. Hichilema seeks to project himself as a rain-maker who can raise the water levels at the Itezhi-Tezhi reservoir and Kariba Dam, the challenges owing to erratic climatic and weather patterns are part of the reasons why PF in Government is investing into expansion of existing hydro-power infrastructure but also going further to diversify to other energy sources such as Solar.
“While Mr. Hichilema elects to politic over these matters which the UPND manifesto remains inadequate to address, the PF in Government is working towards addressing energy challenges both in the intermediate and long-term,” Mr. Chanda said.
He explained that the PF Government was already working to improve operational efficiencies at the power utility company as can be evidenced by the recent changes at the strategic levels of the corporation.