Malawians can now breathe a sigh of relief following the arrival of Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) power generator sets that are expected to add 78 megawatts (MW) to the country’s national power grid by January end.
Over 129 trucks transporting the gensets and various equipments arrived in the country on Thursday evening at Mwanza Border Post from Mozambique’s Beira Port.
The gensets are expected to ease extended load shedding hours Malawians have been experiencing which Escom attributed to the decline in the water levels in Lake Malawi and the Shire River.
According to Escom officials, who sounded visibly relieved with the arrival of the machines, out of the total 78 MW, 35 MW will be installed at Chichiri in Blantyre, 23 MW at Chinyama in Kasungu and the remaining 20 MW will be installed at Kanengo in Lilongwe.
Escom board chairperson Perks Ligoya, who was accompanied by Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining chief director Chimwemwe Banda, Escom chief executive officer Alexxon Chiwaya and other senior Escom officials, told journalists at Zobue in Mozambique that the arrival of the gensets is the genesis of solutions to the current power blackouts that continue to adversely affect the livelihood of Malawians.
An excited Ligoya expressed satisfaction that all has worked out as planned from the time the gensets were shipped from Dubai to their arrival at Beira.
He said: “By the end of January [the gensets] will be installed and we will have 78 MW [megawatts] added to the national grid.”
Ligoya explained that the arrival of the gensets is proof that Escom is living up to its promises of easing the blackouts.
He urged Malawians to stop blaming an individual or a political party for power challenges being experienced.
Initially, the gensets were supposed to start running from October last year but failed due to what the Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP) described as Escom’s poor handling of the procurement process as no single generator had been procured by then.
According to what our sister paper The Nation established last year October, in December 2016, Escom’s evaluation committee recommended that lots one and two in Mapanga and Kanengo be awarded to APR energy with evaluated prices of $34.6 million and $24.9 million while lot three at Chinyama in Kasungu was recommended for award to Aggreko International Projects at $18.9 million.
However, when the bids’ evaluation team presented its report to the internal procurement committee (IPC), the recommendations were not upheld.
On its part, the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (Mera) approved Escom’s application on increasing electricity tariffs by 24.67 percent on condition that the service provider starts using the gensets.
Mera chief executive officer Collins Magalasi told The Nation in an interview last month that they wrote Escom not to implement the approved tariffs because people have not yet started reaping the benefits of the improved benefits.
He said: “Until Escom starts supplying power from the generators, that’s when they can implement the tariff increase.”