Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Zesco doesn't bother to explain load shedding, complains KK

Zesco doesn't bother to explain load shedding, complains KK
By Fridah Zinyama, Florence Bupe and Maluba Jere
Wednesday March 12, 2008 [03:01]

Dr Kenneth Kaunda has complained that Zesco Limited does not bother to explain to the nation when the country is experiencing load shedding. And National Energy Sector and Allied Workers Union (NESAWU) secretary Yotam Mutayachalo has said the government should be held accountable for the power outages that the country is facing.

Meanwhile, Winnie Madikizela- Mandela has urged Zambia to partner with her country in the search for long-term solutions to the power outages. In an interview, Dr Kaunda said Zesco did not take the trouble to explain to the nation the problems that the power utility was experiencing.

“If we had been prepared for the increase in demand for electricity, Zambians would not be sitting in darkness on a daily basis,” he said.

Dr Kaunda said the government was aware of the increase in demand for the commodity but did not put measures in place to mitigate the problem.

“If people in authority had the foresight and planned adequately, we would not have the problems that we now have,” he said.

And Mutayachalo has said it was wrong for government to shift the blame of the prevailing power shortage to organisations such as the World Bank.

“Government should account for the power shortages because the power crisis we are facing now is purely due to government’s failure to heed advice from concerned parties,” he said.

Mutayachalo charged that the government had decided to ignore calls for urgent infrastructure rehabilitation and capacity enhancement in the electricity sub-sector.

“When we brought out our fears on the operations of Zesco, we were not supported by government, and if government continues to downplay the problems we are facing, Zesco will land into a bigger crisis,” Mutayachalo said.

He said the current power crisis could only be resolved if those charged with the responsibility of handling the country’s energy sector took an honest and pragmatic approach to the problem.

He charged that there were still high levels of lack of transparency in the management of the power sector.

“Zesco needs to objectively inform the nation of what’s going on instead of concealing issues on the ground. The current power shortages have the potential to seriously cripple this county’s economy and threaten job security within Zesco,” said Mutayachalo.

And Winnie said South Africa was equally affected by the on going power deficit.

“When Eskom wanted to rehabilitate and expand its production capacity, government stopped the utility company,” Winnie said. “Now the government has realised its error and is pumping enough funds into the utility company for its rehabilitation and expansion programme.”

Patriotic Front vice president Dr Guy Scott has said it was arrogant of the government to shift blame on the energy crisis in the country to the World Bank. Dr Scott said the World Bank might have misunderstood the agenda of privatising Zesco but were not the ones to live with the consequences.

“It’s the government’s job to find a solution to this problem because it was anticipated as far back as 20 years,” he said. “Zesco is supposed to be looking after its own affairs and not expecting someone from outside to come and address these issues.”

Energy permanent secretary Peter Mumba last week said the World Bank should bear the consequences of having misled the country on the energy situation.

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