INSTEAD of the usual 45 days supply of coal for power generation, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) says it now only has two days supply because of problems bedevilling the Nat
ional Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and Wankie Colliery Company (Wankie).
Zesa general manager (corporate affairs) Obert Nyatanga yesterday said the power situation was very worrying and had resulted in the parastatal occasionally failing to supply a full service to the country.
Commerce and industry have been severely affected by power shortages countrywide caused by load shedding and vandalism.
“The shortage of coal from Wankie and wagons from the NRZ have become major problems for power generation,” Nyatanga said. “These shortages affect us just like they do tobacco farmers in the agricultural sector. We need 45 days of coal at our power stations but right now we have an average of only two days. This coal can be burnt in just one day.”
It is reliably understood that the NRZ is supplying Wankie only 66 wagons instead of the promised 150 per day, further crippling operations at the financially-troubled mining concern.
Wankie has complained to the NRZ but the situation remains gloomy because the railways is seriously in the red, has worn out wagons, spare parts shortages and is basically operating under severe strain.
Nyatanga said industry was demanding increased power but Zesa could not meet these demands.
“When the coal is ready there are no wagons and we have to use road which is very expensive,” Nyatanga said. “It then erodes our revenue base.”
Wankie chairman Ngoni Kudenga last year highlighted the seriousness of the issue, saying “inadequate supply of empty wagons” by the NRZ was adversely affecting the supply of coal to the market.
Kudenga said: “Inadequate supply of empty wagons by the National Railways of Zimbabwe adversely affected the supply of WCC coal to the market. Under normal circumstances NRZ should supply 150 railway wagons per day. However a daily average of 66 wagons was supplied, which is only 44% of normal requirements. Consequently, customers continued to use road transport resulting in 45% of WCC coal being moved by this model of transport.”
For the period ending December 31 2002, Wankie made an operating loss amounting to $7,9 billion, which was marginally higher when compared to $7,8 billion recorded in the previous year.
Kudenga said coke sales for the year at 3 448 600 tonnes were 302 818 tonnes or 8% lower than the 3 751 418 tonnes achieved in the previous year.
“Demand for coal and coke remained firm throughout the year in both the domestic and export markets,” Kudenga said. “However, the company failed to meet demand because of major challenges.”
He cited the major challenges as foreign currency shortages, unprecedented high inflation, price controls, transport constraints and loss of critical skills.
Meanwhile a number of international bidders who have shown keen interest in taking up some of the Zesa power stations are seeking guarantees from the government on the payment terms.
Zesa plans to dispose of Kariba Power Station and Hwange Thermal Power Station.
So far Zesa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with some of the investors.
However, the would-be new partners are now seeking some form of security in the form of either cash crops or minerals that would have to be sold in their respective countries.
Nyatanga yesterday said an agreement would be reached within the next month on the guarantee issues raised by investors.