The Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) Limited will not reconnect the 330 kilovolts interconnectivity power line from Kariba power station to Zimbabwe until its reliability was assured, Kariba North Bank technical manager Wesley Lwiindi has said.
Mr. Lwiindi said ZESCO Limited would not switch on the high voltage power line connecting Zambia and Zimbabwe until a lasting technical solution was found.
He said the electricity company was hesitant to reconnect the line to Zimbabwe to avoid another countrywide power blackout.
In January this year, Zambia experienced a countywide blackout when the interconnectivity line she is sharing with Zimbabwe developed a fault.
He said this when a delegation of officials from ZESCO, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Finance and National Planning inspected rehabilitation works at Kariba North Bank and Kafue Gorge power stations yesterday.
The delegation, which is led by Secretary to the Treasury, Evans Chibiliti, is on a two day tour of Kafue Gorge and Kariba North bank power stations.
Mr. Lwiindi however said ZESCO was holding consultations with the Zimbabwean power supply company over the matter.
He said the inter-power connectivity cable between Zambia and Zimbabwe would remain switched off until ZESCO was sure of its reliability.
“We are holding discussions with officials from the power company in Zimbabwe. We are actually also waiting for a report from these officials for us to determine how safe it is to reconnect this power line,” he said.
The rehabilitation works at Kariba north bank would be completed before the end of this year.
And ZESCO Finance Director, Moses Zulu, said once the power rehabilitation project was completed, the power utility company would increase its revenue by more than 30 per cent.
Mr. Zulu said the company was facing difficulties in raising funds especially that some customers have opted to use charcoal instead of electricity.
He has since appealed to defaulting customers to always pay their electricity bills in order to enable the power utility firm to continue operating at full capacity.
Mr. Zulu further said ZESCO was facing challenges of unfavourable tariffs given to it by the Energy Regulation Board (ERB).
He revealed that in 2006, the ERB refused to revise the electricity tariffs to give ZESCO.
Last year, the ERB allowed ZESCO a 16 percent electricity tariff increment, way below the 51 per cent which the company had applied for.
ZESCO is owed about K300 billion by its customers and has since embarked on electricity disconnection exercise from households in a bid to recover money, mainly the domestic users
And Mr. Chibiliti expressed happiness at the manner government, ZESCO and cooperating partners were intervening to resolve the power deficit Zambia and other SADC countries were facing.
Mr. Chibiliti said the government would continue to support the rehabilitation works ZESCO was undertaking.
“The single largest threat we are currently facing in our development is this power deficit. This is a matter of urgency. A solution has to be found and found now. I am impressed with the works being done and I can assure you that the government will support you at every point,” he said.
He said Zambia could not allow the current power deficit to disrupt its chance of developing, especially that the country was experiencing increased investments in various sectors of the economy.
Rehabilitation works of the Kariba North Bank and Kafue Gorge power stations would increase their generating capacity to 120 and 90 megawatts respectively.