Zim snubs China's CMEC

HARARE - Zimbabwe has officially awarded the $1,3 billion Hwange Power Station (HPS) expansion tender to Sino Hydro Corporation (SHC) after cancelling an initial offer to China Machinery and Engineering Company (CMEC).

This confirms an earlier report by the Daily News that President Robert Mugabe had given an executive order for the replacement of CMEC at Hwange and another Beijing company China Jiangxi for International Corporation (CJIC) has been under pressure for two water projects that have failed to take off, and years after they had been commissioned.

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire confirmed the development yesterday saying CMEC failed to conclude the contract within the stipulated time frame agreed with government and the Zimbabwe Power Company.

“Sino Hydro were the second highest bidders of the project. We would like to assure the nation that the HPS expansion project remains one  of the major priorities,” said Mavhaire.

CMEC’s tender was terminated last month. It has been more than a year after it had won the rights to rehabilitate the thermal power station.

Government is under pressure to improve supplies of power as it is one of the key services needed in turning around the economy.

According to sources, CMEC was struggling to secure funding. “Since last year, you would know that these guys (CMEC) have been given more time to execute the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, but nothing has materialised,” said the source.

“In light of that, Cabinet has decided to give the second bidder Sino Hydro a chance because CMEC has virtually failed to act on the project. And typical of these Chinese, they come in and tender (for projects) at lower prices, and then scurry for funding from international sources.

“Regrettably, our government has been giving contracts to people with no capacity at all, hence Mugabe’s alleged intervention is laudable given Zimbabwe’s power challenges,” they added.

Under the project, CMEC was supposed to add two more units to HPS’s six generating units and these would have a combined capacity of 600 megawatts (MW).

And as CMEC-HPS plays out, CJIC has just been awarded another multi-million dollar tender to construct a 100 MW solar power station in Gwanda.

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