By Luckmore Safuli
THE Hwange Thermal Expansion project is now 40 percent complete with the contractor, Sino Hydro, optimistic the project which is set to add 600 Megawatts to the national grid will meet the January 2022 deadline.
Zimbabwe’s quest to achieve energy self-sufficiency is closer to becoming a reality, with one of the mega projects, the 1.5 billion US dollar Hwange Thermal Units Expansion project taking shape.
A delegation from the Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs’ office visited the site this Friday to assess progress. Project Site Manager Engineer Forbes Chanakira said despite the foreign currency challenges, notable progress has been made in construction with the entire project now 40 percent complete.
“We are now in the 19th month and as I have already indicated Unit 7 start-up is expected on the 25th of April that’s is the initial commissioning which will run for 6 months and then after the pre-commissioning will then have the commercial operation date around October 2021,” said Chanakira.
Sino Hydro Project Site Manager, Tang Zhaolai said while the coronavirus might result in delayed shipment of some essential materials, measures have been put to reduce the risk, adding that the project remains on schedule.
“For this project, we tried to reduce the risks to the project, for instance, we have cancelled all flight tickets for our staff from China coming to this side. We have also stopped staff going to China for vacation,” explained Zhaolai.
The Deputy Director in Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo’s office, Mr Tapera Mugoriya stressed the significance of the project in stimulating economic activities and growth of the domestic economy.
“This project will be commissioned during the same time with another mega project, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam. For Matabeleland North province, though it’s a national project we are proud to be hosting this and are confident it will benefit the province,” said Mugoriya.
For the next 10 months, the contractor is set to focus on construction of the main building and the boiler as well as commence mechanical works.
To date, a total of 2,506 people have been employed with the manpower level expected to go beyond 3,000 during the peak phase.
The project entails the construction of two 335MW generating units and the development of new transmission lines as well as substations to enable the evacuation of power.
The project which attained National Project Status in 2011, is being co-implemented by the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) through its special purpose vehicle, Hwange Electricity Supply Company (HESCO) and the Engineering, Procurement Construction (EPC) contractor, Sinohydro Pvt Limited of China.
By Luckmore Safuli