Load shedding casts a bad light on the UPND’s promise of sustainable power supply during campaigns

Political Analyst John Sichangwa has said that the recently announced load shedding casts a bad light on the UPND government that promised Zambians sustainable power supply during campaigns.

Mr. Sichangwa also wondered why there are seemingly conflicting statements from Zesco limited and the Ministry of Energy with the former indicating generational surplus while the latter announced load shedding.

During the association of power utilities of Africa meeting in Senegal, Zesco Managing Director Victor Mapani disclosed that Zambia had achieved 1156 megawatts generation surplus but Energy Minister Peter Kapala recently announced up to 6 hours of load shedding that begins on 15 December, 2022.

After launching part of the 750 megawatts Kafue Lower, it was also announced that the country has a national generation capacity of 3456 megawatts against a peak national demand of approximately 2300 megawatts.

But Mr. Sichangwa in an interview with local radio station Phoenix questioned what has changed now, after clear indications from ZESCO that even with the low water levels at Kariba Dam; Zambia would not face any load shedding as the country has surplus electricity generation capacity.

And The Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) is disturbed that ZESCO seems to have already initiated load shedding with consumer experiences across the country showing that some areas are already reporting that they are currently experiencing prolonged load-shedding and inconsistence supply under the guise of maintenance works.

ZACA Executive Secretary Juba Sakala said that electricity from the power utility ZESCO sometimes goes the whole day from 08:00hrs to 16:00hrs and at times in different areas goes from 17:00hrs to 23:00hrs, a situation ZACA has attributed to poor planning systems by the power utility company.

“All this is because of poor planning they do not plan for eventualities operating like “katemba” that is what the system is all about.” Sakala told ZBT that the situation being experienced in most areas across the country is disturbing in the past one week as there has been no proper explanationare saying its because or it only happens during the rainy season in most cases but its too frequent and too much.

“We are very disturbed as we do not know if we are going to have power and as we speak some areas of the country have no power and no proper explanation has been given by the power utility company ZESCO.” He remarked.

Sakala explained that, “messages may come today that you may not have power but all the sudden there is power and then two days after that is when you lose out power, sometimes for the whole day without a proper reason or notice being given.”

ZACA Executive Secretary Sakala has challenged the power utility company to take up the responsibility and apologies to the nation as the situation is disrupting businesses. “ZESCO should plan in advance as they are aware that during the rainy season they normally have challenges if they are to suppress this challenge which has been there year in year out.”

He challenged the power utility company ZESCO to be proactive and should not be reactive to the concerns of the general public. Minister of Energy Chibwe Kapala has announced that Zambia will initiate load shedding for about six hours a day from 15 December 2022.

Howwever, there are indications that load sheddding has already began as some areas have been getting eratic supply for the past few weeks with the ZESCO sending messages to customers that they are undertaking maintenance works. But the frequency and schedule for these maintenances have been too frequent.

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