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Alba Iulia
Thursday, May 28, 2020

ZESCO Negligence caused Depletion of Water Levels at Kariba Dam-Engineers

Headlines ZESCO Negligence caused Depletion of Water Levels at Kariba Dam-Engineers

ZESCO Limited officials inspect the waters at Lake Kariba where the utility firm generates power
ZESCO Limited officials inspect the waters at Lake Kariba where the utility firm generates power

The Engineering Institution of Zambia says the current power crisis has been caused by ZESCO’s delay to implement remedial measures despite early indications of subdued water levels at the Kariba Dam.

EIZ President Bernard Chiwala said the reservoir at Kariba Dam has not reached its maximum retention level of 488.5 meters for the last five years.

Engineer Chiwala was speaking during a presentation of report findings on the cause of low water levels at the Kariba dam.

He said the investigations showed that Lake Kariba started the 2014-2015 rain season on a lower reservoir level than the previous five years with approximately 40 billion cubic meters in storage as at 30th September 2014.

Mr. Chiwala revealed that despite restrictions on water use by Zambezi River Authority, ZESCO and the Zimbabwe Power Authority (ZESA) continued to generate power way above the 500 megawatts revised threshold, leading to further reduction of water levels.

‘The issue of low inflows was identified early however there was a delay in implementing measures to forestall the ‘business as usual’ operations,’ Mr Chiwala said.

He added, ‘According to data from the Department of Meteorology, the upper reaches of the Zambezi River (upstream of Katima Mulilo) received below normal rainfall. The middle reaches had normal rainfall.’

Mr. Chiwala said the release of 19.98 billion cubic meters (an equivalent of almost one year of generation for either of the power plants) over an 87 day period in 2011.

‘Though attributed to dam safety measures, due to restrictions in the availability of spillway gates, at that time, may not have been prudent as there was no imminent danger paused by the inflows.’

He said the low reservoir levels for the 2014/15 season cannot be attributed to the poor inflows alone as the daily reservoir was 80 percent filled during the month of July.

‘There was an element of over generation at Kariba complex. The problem has been compounding over the years,’ Mr. Chiwala said.

Mr. Chiwala stated that ZESCO exceeded its water allocation by 22 percent during 2014 saying this coupled with low inflows is a contributor to low water levels being experienced.

‘The increase in economic activities over the years has led to an increase in demand for energy and has put stress on the water resource,’ he said.

Mr. Chiwala revealed that despite the end of March 2015 directive from Zambezi River Authority to the two utilities to reduce generation, this was not immediately implemented until in ZESCO’s case, August 2015. This led to further drawdown of the reservoir threatening total shutdown of the power plant.

Mr. Chiwala added that the Engineering Institution of Zambia has recommended that customers must be encouraged to switch off non-essential loads such as geysers, hot elements and swimming pool pumps.

‘Large industrial plants operating change houses such as the mines should switch to Solar Hybrid Geysers while customers should be encouraged to use energy efficient equipment such as energy efficient lamps. ZESCO should continue with the exercise of distributing free and exchanging with energy efficient lamps.’

He also recommend that Government should issue a Statutory instrument directing that all new housing estates use hybrid solar water geysers for heating water and that existing households be given a fixed period to migrate to hybrid solar geysers.

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  1. Is that all what the EIZ can recommend? There will be no solution to this problem for a long time to come!

    • Iwe Chiwala, stop disgracing Engineers. You cannot say ZESCO was negligent coz all you’re suggesting is that the water levels in the Kariba Dam could have been sustained by switching off some turbines to save on outflow from the dam and therefore implying that load shedding should have started EARLIER so as to keep the water level high!!! How does that solve our current situation? Who elected you EIZ President with this kind of reasoning. Can EIZ please come up with sensible and practical ways of solving this problem?

    • The Engineers were trained at UNZA. What do you expect? Fire the lot and bring in expatriates as usual!

    • Somebody independent of the Crown has said the damage was done on the King’s watch. What does the King’s baffon has to say about this? That God is responsible? Waiting to hear comments from the people who appoint ZESCO bosses.

    • Someone should be charged for criminal negligence. We have always known than that nature had nothing to do with the water level. They lied to the President and he believed them…anyway what can you say? Edgar has no vision

    • Zambians can’t think beyond what they will have for lunch or dinner. How you expect Zesco executives to think beyond 5 years is beyond me.

    • @Nubian Princess, if stvpidity is part of you it does not matter which institution you attend – you’ve just proved now and are a typical example yourself.

    • @ WANU NGWEE just read the article properly and understand what happened – “Mr. Chiwala said the release of 19.98 billion cubic meters (an equivalent of almost one year of generation for either of the power plants) over an 87 day period in 2011”

      In simple words so that any fool can understand, ONE YEARS WATER WAS WASTED DIRECTLY OUT OF THE DAM! And since then the levels have not been able to recover.

    • Bernard has said it the best way any engineer would. The problem is as pros we tend to suck the******of politicians. The day we decide to stand up & tell the politicians the correct things, as we were trained, is the day we can call ourselves pros.
      We bend over to please politicians at the cost of doing the right things. Sorry I insulted but probably that’s the language we will understand.

  2. This is a much more reasoned presentation than what Zesco spin doctors are spewing out. The question is who will be fired for this?
    Meanwhile Government should not accept the proposed Zesco new tariffs which really will serve only to replenish dwindling revenues during the load shedding caused by Zesco’s own negligence. It has nothing to do with the requirement for new investment enticement. Claptrap.
    The general public is already being squeezed enough due to the plummeting Kwacha!
    Mmembe and his accomplices should not be given more ammo to embarrass the Govt.

    • We embrace mediocrity… do not take responsibility and take stock hence repeat the selfsame mistakes you tell me if someone like Fossil Chikwanda who ran the economy down in the 70s can get the selfsame job 30 years later in any country?

    • After 50+ years of Independence and this is where we are? It is high time we pull up our socks, take responsibility for our actions and country, and properly plan and implement that plan to create a stable long lasting grid for the next 50+ years. Zambia has the ability it just needs the right attitude. Let us become a leader in our region – exporting power, creating manufacturing jobs, having agricultural stability, etc. Time to wake up and move forward is now. No more dependence on everyone else. Zambia – rise up, lead the way, and let others follow us!

  3. Why more water usage in the last 12 months in comparison with the other years? Not really power demand. . . This is what you should have investigated and as EIZ engineer, you should be telling us workable solutions.

  4. It’s because of Corruption and dullness. The got cheap turbines from China after getting a euro bond and getting a cheaper turbines .

  5. Guy Scott was trying to drum into these hopeless ministers that Zambia should be manufacturing solar geysers but all they think of is stealing. We have copper to make them, we will be saving trees by less Malasha and cut down using expensive electricity. And forget about them passing laws to have new buildsings more energy efficient, that is simply beyond them, I don’t think they even know what an energy efficient building is.

    • Guy Scott was the vice president when President Sata was not recognizing this problem. Guy was minister in the Chiluba government. So take your inferiority complex and shove it up were the sun don’t shine.

    • No Nzelu, did we have this many economic problems during sata or chiluba raign due to load shedding? You are the one with a monkey complex like all your forebears before you. What is wrong with guy Scott pointing out this deficiency only lately???

    • @Nzelu
      Because it is a white man who says we should be making solar products, is following up on this having a complex?
      The supposed educated zambians seem to have feaces for brains in your case.

    • @Patrick, the problems we have today are a culmination of Sata’s recklessness. In fact this Lungu is unfortunate that he had to be the one to pay the price for it before he could even learn a thing

  6. This is a very useless n and misleading report.None of those issues cited are correct reasons for low water in Kariba. This is why i have no bit of respect for the so called Zambian engineers. If this is not a case of covering some poltical culprits at the expense of professionalism,then it represents a high level of un imaginable incompetence on the part of the involved so called Engineers. Guy Scot was more accurate than this shit by the body of Zambian Engineers. Chiwala and your team are useless and you have never added true value in the development of Zambia.You are luck the clueless SATA is gone because he would trashed your report in your presence.

  7. Consequences of employing cadres at the expense of qualified Zambians. People like Judge Ngoma: what was he doing at ZESCO? Now the whole nation has to suffer for this!!! And you want to petition God for this!! Goodness me!!!

  8. Ati ‘Free Energy Saver bulbs’ The idea of ZESCO managing demand side should not be allowed, who pays for the bulbs ba Chiwala naimwe–thats a cost. We need fixed unit allocation for all domestic users this should be dependant on the Area Average Consumption and knock out intended savings. Let Customers manage their power if i have 500KWH and i need to heat my house from 6 to 6 thus my business once units are finish i have to go without power. Current system does not encourage savings, i save power my neighbor doesn’t but we all subjected to same hours of load shedding.
    ZESCO should be looked from independent outside view not from these Parastal approaches were pipo feel resources are infinity. Steeamline ZESCO operations, introduce accountability at all levels especially Executive and…

  9. Never again should father Bwalaya and his kind be put on a Zesco board again. President Lungu needs to elevate more FDD and MMD smart MPs to higher offices. PF and UPND MPS are hogwash.

    Viva President Nawakwi.

  10. We have always stated that Zambia lacks the right people in the most vital offices and industry. Time to act is now President Lungu.

  11. What you all insulting here do not understand is that power rationing was there even before the reduction in power generation. If they had started the power generation reduction early then load shading would have started much earlier. ZESCO decided to avoid this by keeping the increased generation. This to me was not incompetence but balancing the act and every good manager will do that at some point.
    Unless you are new to this country, it is common knowledge that power consumption has increased due to newly constructed houses, shopping centers, welding activities throughout the country, new mines and even new cement factories, milling plants and tuntembas. The solution is not to fire engineers but to develop new power plants. In the mean time we have to live with load shading. Sorry…

    • PF have been in power for 4 Years and all this time they have been only stealing without knowing anything about our power generating capacities vis growth in demand??? out of the whole GRZ some one should have known about this impending demand, solar energy should have been advised to all citizens as a matter of urgency. This is the type of non accountability that is destroying Zambia. We can’t just say ” ohhh there is demand growth so Load shedding is normal “

  12. Chiwala is a Civil Engineer giving us an update.the problem with zesco is that they have employed a Managing director who is a Mechanical Engineer instead of Electrical Engineer.thats what we can expect from ECL.

    • By your assumption so a medical doctor is the right person to run a hospital? don’t you know that IT companies are not necessarily run by managers with computer science degrees. A manager is simply a people manager with an ability to delegate professionals with various skills sets for the good of the company and its bottom-line.

  13. This report is incomplete actual radio broadcast included Zambezi river authority(ZRA) being joint owned with Zim. Also Zim had consummed way higher than Zambia. Both countries never followed directive from ZRA.

  14. Zesco acted nevligently. Yaluma was just lyin and defending his proxy at zesco.

    U cant sink a antion in this manner and allow those responsible to escape. A serious engineering carelessness has been committed. It would be double tragedy to let those at zesco go scott free of such economic sabnotage.

  15. So it’s not Lungu s fault?.From my observations it was the last MD Chitundu who caused this problem he should have started load shedding 5 years ago and by now we would have switched to alternative sources. So the current MD Mr Mudense is not to blame the way some people wants us to believe. Sorry they will forever be in opposition!

  16. There is some truth in what zwd said that the generators were tampered with by the chinese so to try and generate more power with inferior equipment zesco had to use more water.we are not being told the truth.

    • you are correct!! We are not being told the truth but at least they have admitted that ZESCO was at fault……

  17. This is what the lazy bum Edgar should have done immediately this issue came to light – instituted an independent panel of experts to give look it and in turn distanced himself from this debacle BUT at the moment it looks like its a big massive cover…..what the Engineering Institution of Zambia have done is not rocket science, simply a fact-find investigative research of historic data or basic data analysis even 2 year university can do it. I cringe at the response we will get from the gov’t (i hope its not BUFFOON Kambwili) or the silly comedian ZESCO spokesman.
    No one has publicly taken responsibility for this hence its business as usual; Directors at ZESCO will still bonuses as for everyone they will pay heavily for this incompetence and corruption for years to come.

  18. Owe mwebantu, thanks for the analysis Engineer Chiwala. Zambians this problem has no immediate solution, the solution still remains biting the bullet.

  19. Mediocre Zesco managers with skills more suited for managing their cow shed waters than sophisticated power plants.

    Now you see why Zed is as poor as it was in 1964?

  20. Shame that Kenya now has stable 24/7 power from geothermal sources and is seeking to ramp capacity to 5k megawatts while our backward Zed is just stuck with unstable hydro sources.

  21. @Mzambia wa Zamani,
    Am sure you dont have your facts right. We are currently in the planning phase of the Kenya Geothermal plant, mining of coal has just started. We are currently doing the designs at Wuhan University of Technology in China. The group consists of both Chinese and Kenyan engineers. So if anything is to go by so far, the plant will be up and running in the next 3yrs.

  22. @wanu ngwee. I am also appalled by this bernard’s recommendation . From his analysis I conclude one key thing, the hydro is not fully upgraded and modernized. If it was automated, the interlocking could have regulated consumption, unless some cadre decided to by pass all interlocks and aallowed the plant to operate in manual.This means cadres were opening valves carelessly without proper flow measure. Iwe ka Chiwala recommend for optimizing that plant, automating it and all so that it is efficient because we cconsumers are just a process variable!

  23. I knew that this had to do more about technical and planning than water levels. These so called Zesco engineers just fattening like pigs but doing ****o.

  24. You mean Judge Ngoma is deputy Technical advisor at ZESCO?. And what are those Engineers dressed in white doing at the Kariba dam?

    Is this the meaning of white collar jobs?.

  25. OKay we have heard about the overconsumption on the Zambian side but this problem is not only technical but also political (with both Late Sata & Lungu gallivanting to Zim it is very difficult to instil discipline on water resource use by technical people amid political pressure. In early September Dr Greg Mills of the Brenthurst Foundation wrote that Zimbabwe’s power demand is some 2,200MW. Its supply is usually around two-thirds of this. In April 2015, for example, Harare, Bulawayo and Manyati stations were producing a combined output of 78MW against a capacity of 265MW. With problems afflicting Hwange Thermal Station, with an installed capacity of 920MW, pressure for continued production has been placed on Kariba to deliver close to its 750MW. So how much water did Zimbabwe overuse?…

  26. Zambian Engineers are simply RUBBISH.No Innovation,Creativity and simply Dull.Go to Unza memorize the text books and dubb the LABS..go to the EXAM and clear…what do you expect from such shit???Doomed we are in ZED with such ENGINEERS…they just sit in offices and wait for Salaries and Allowances

  27. Don’t blame ‘our Micheal’ for these problems blame Little Fleddie the accounts clerk turned night school lawyer and wannabe scribe…with his fat desk lawyer who takes “holi community” who lied to him to ‘invest’ $2m in a redundant airline…they sang to the world how ‘their micheal’ was the answer and demonized all others….but all we got is a family forest, corruption, arrogance and no clue about governance…so when thAT fart of a scribe….tries to write in his useless paper about ECL this ECL that….we say to him…BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR! You reaped what you and fatso sowed…and never again shall we believe you trust you or listen to you because you drank from the corrupt chalice

  28. @mambwe, mundende was director of generation, became chief operating officer guiding generation. chitundu was a corporate entity.

    mundende is at the center of this crisis.

  29. The engineers have at least tried to delve into some of the causes of the current energy crisis. This could be a pointer to ‘what needs to be done’. But people like ‘Nubian Princess’ are quick to dismiss the report and say these are ‘UNZA engineers – call in the expatriates’ Is that an inferiority complex or what? Are you assuming they were trained at UNZA or you have facts? There is a myriad of other institutions they may have trained at. And being trained at UNZA is equal to producing an inaccurate report?

  30. HH has been insinuating that the water levels are not low and it is Lungu causing Load shedding. So it is true, load shedding is from low water levels? This HH is a snake in the grass.

  31. Very true David Chinyama HH and the UPND have been shouting that the water levels are not low it’s ECL s fault ,what liars just as they are lying that they will fix the economy.

  32. It is very simple. Let the President run his govt for 6 months with Permanent Secretaries, civil servants and technocrats. Use the saved money into these resources. The results will be seen.
    My impression is that too much resources is uselessly injected into politics.
    It is possible though it may not be supported.
    If it does not work now. Next President take my advice..

  33. Chiwala said that Zesco opened the spill gates and kept them open despite the poor inflows which did not threaten to cause damages.
    He said Zesco was supposed to keep closed the spill gates in order to accummulate water to a certain level before opening the spill gates.
    That is true and it is the major problem causing low levels of water and loadshedding. Even if you had plenty rainfall if the spill gates are kept open up the end of the rainseaon, little water can be trapped.
    This is about how water is trapped and when should it be done.


    According to section 9 of the Electricity Act of Zambia if a power supply company is able to foresee and mitigate a shortfall of electricity then it is illegal to resort to lessening the power supply. 2 years ago ZESCO published a paper saying that they could foresee that the energy by 2015 there would be an energy shortfall due to population growth (not rainfall, WHICH IS JUST A CHEAP EXCUSE) equal to the one we face now and did nothing to prepare the people and use “Sustainable Demand Reduction strategies” to combat the shortfall. (ILLEGALITY #1)

    Click the Link below and join the petition to demand that the…

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