By Chiwoyu Sinayangwe and Edwin Mbulo
PEOPLE should not think that “when the rain just drops” come November or December then the electricity situation is going to normalise, says Zesco.
ZESCO senior manager for demand side management Readley Makaliki said it would take up to three years of normal rainfall seasons for the key water reservoirs at Lake Kariba and Itezhi Tezhi dam to collect enough water for the generators at Kafue Gorge and Kariba North Bank to return to full operational capacity.
Zambia is currently facing an acute shortage of electricity, a situation which is threatening to halt the economic wheels of the country in both the key industries like mining and also small to medium size businesses. “The key thing to note is that [even] when the rains come either in November or December, things won’t normalise,” Makaliki said when he appeared on the ZNFU-sponsored programme – the Farmer on ZNBC.
“That means load-shedding will continue because it takes time for the water from all the tributaries of the Zambezi River and Kafue River to collect into the dams. People should not think that when the rain just drops, then things are going to normalise.” He said citizens should expect the current electricity shortages to continue. “Load-shedding is going to continue although looking at some of the mitigation measures which are being put in place, the load-shedding is going to reduce,” said Makaliki.
“The load-shedding will continue because we need two to three good rainfall seasons for the dams to go back to levels where they are.” But an engineer at the Victoria Falls Hydropower Station says the water levels in the Zambezi River above the Victoria Falls are not in any way different from those experienced in the last three years.
The Zesco source said the only problem the power utility was facing, which posed a risk to the turbines, was a weed known as water hyacinth, that was being harvested at the water intakes, a few metres from the lip of the Victoria Falls. “We are not shutting anything down as this is a normal situation in terms of water levels at this time of the year when the water levels in the Zambezi River are down.
We are operating normally and people walking on the dry river bed up stream are always being warned by us and even National Heritage Conservation Commission that they do this at their own risk as we may shut down the station at any time due to a fault and re-divert the water onto the Victoria Falls at which time there is no warning signal so any one on the rocks can be swept away,” the engineer said.
The source added that the same was done during the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in August 2013 and also when UN secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited to the Victoria Falls in February 2012. And a ZAWA source says had the waters on the Zambezi River, which feeds into the Kariba Dam, been so low as portrayed by Zesco, tourism activities in Livingstone such as boat cruises would have ground to a halt up stream the Victoria Falls. Most of these boats are so big that had the waters drastically reduced to what the government says we would have seen the African Queen, Taonga and the Lady Livingstone fold up.
The waters on the three channels adjacent to the Musi-oa-Tunya National Park are as they were in September in 2012 or the 2010. And National Heritage Conservation Commission source said the dry peak season had been similar at the Eastern Cataract of the Victoria Falls due to Zesco water intake up stream.
PHOTO CREDIT – THE Hindu
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