Bulawayo fights to reclaim power station

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has intensified efforts to regain control of the city’s thermal power station.

The Bulawayo power plant was arbitrarily expropriated by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) more than two decades ago after the amalgamation of all the Local Authority Electricity Undertakings.

Amen Mpofu, Bulawayo deputy mayor, told residents who had questioned him why the BCC was not taking over the power station so as to improve the power supply situation in the city while also generating essential revenue from it that council was “seriously looking” into the issue to ensure Zesa “renders Caesar what belongs to Caesar”.

“The delay in taking over power station is political, but let me assure you that we are fighting hard to make sure that the power station is brought back to city council management,” said Mpofu said  during budget breakfast consultative meeting in the city.

“As a city we want our power station which was arbitrarily expropriated from us back. It may take a little of time to get it back but I am sure we are going to win that battle as we are seriously looking at the issue,” the deputy mayor said.

According to the latest council minutes, the local authority has also ordered an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the take over of the power station.

BCC also wants to know why Zesa had stopped paying annual royalties to the council and why it did not compensate council for the takeover of the power utility.

“The financial director explained that Zesa did not compensate council for the takeover of Bulawayo power station, but records show that at one point council was receiving royalties from Zesa. Zesa had unilaterally discontinued this, the matter is now being investigated,” reads part of the minutes.

BCC has also accused Zesa of failing to manage and maintain the station, which often breaks down and fails to provide power to industry.

Early this year, Zesa disconnected electricity at Tower Block and the city council over a $20 million plus debt.

The power cut incensed council and ratepayers alike, prompting the reclamation measures.

Mpofu said the issue of reclaiming power stations from Zesa by local authorities was not peculiar to Bulawayo.

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