Hwange Thermal Power Station back on grid after floods

Heavy rains that hit Hwange at the weekend knocked out Hwange Thermal Power Station when the coal got wet, but two 120 megawatt units were back up yesterday with a third expected to be on the grid by last night, giving 360MW.

According to state media, Hwange emerged as the worst affected by the weekend storms, with blocked drains causing flash floods Gweru and Chegutu town as well as flooding in Silobela and Gokwe.

In Hwange, the heavy rains left 35 families homeless.

In Gokwe, villagers were forced out of their homes, while in Silobela, the rains mainly affected crops. No major incidents were reported in other parts of the country.

Electricity generation at Hwange Thermal Power Station had resumed at two units yesterday, while the third unit was expected to be up late yesterday.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Development and Zesa Holdings’ generating subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), turned to Twitter to report the problems and give instant updates on progress.

“Following unusually heavy rainfall in Hwange on 18 January 2020, Hwange Thermal Power Station was adversely affected by floods which flooded the station’s ash pump house and cooling water pumps. Coal stocks were consequently dampened, leading to forced shutdown of the station,” said ZPC.

“Efforts currently are in place to resume generation at the plant. Units 1 and 4 returned to service this (yesterday) morning, while unit 2 is expected back in service by day end. Kindly bear with us as we work tirelessly to restore normal service,” said ZPC.

Hwange Colliery Company Limited, which has accommodated 35 families whose houses were flooded, said the situation was better yesterday, with the affected families still in a guest house.

Hwange Colliery’s corporate affairs manager Mrs Rugare Dhobbie said: “The situation is better today. But we remain on high alert. Displaced families are still accommodated at the guest house (and) as Hwange we are grateful for the assistance received. This act of love will make a huge difference in the lives of the affected families.”

She said companies and individuals were coming forward with various forms of assistance for the affected families.

Gweru’s Mkoba and Woodlands suburbs exposed the local authority’s poor drainage system, as most streets were flooded.

Mkoba Ward 13 Councillor Catherine Mhondiwa said most families had their property soaked in water following the floods on Saturday night.

“I think we need to revisit our drainage system as the local authority because the floods that hit Mkoba suburb on Saturday night left many residents counting losses after their property was soaked in water.”

Acting provincial development coordinator Mr Fortune Mpungu said the provincial Civil Protection Department was still mobilising resources to assist Gokwe villagers who were left homeless.

Mashonaland West provincial development coordinator Mrs Cecilia Chitiyo said: “As a province, we have received significant rains but there have been no reports of loss of life. There were, however, reports of some suburbs being submerged in water in Chegutu.”

Acting Civil Protection Department chairman for Beitbridge Mr Jahson Mugodzwa said they were yet to receive reports related to the weekend rains from communities.

“We haven’t received abnormal rains and the situation remains normal. However, all our role players are on high alert,” he said.

In Masvingo, most districts received rains, which did not threaten human life or destroy infrastructure.

Acting provincial Civil Protection Department chairperson Mr Roy Hove, who is also Masvingo district development coordinator, said there were no reports of flash flooding or infrastructure damage.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo challenged the Civil Protection Department to provide adequate information to citizens in flood-prone areas for them to take precautionary measures.

The call came at a time when various organisations, including tour operators and the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Victoria Falls, mobilised donations for Hwange flood victims who are temporarily housed at a guest house and some private houses in the town.

In an interview in Victoria Falls yesterday, Minister Moyo said: “We thank Hwange Colliery and the district development coordinator’s office and everyone who managed to give the victims alternative accommodation, but I would want to appeal to the CPU to warn and inform people in time to get prepared for such disasters.

“For now, we are waiting for a report from the CPU as everyone is on the ground mobilising resources.”

The floods also temporarily stopped work on the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station, where two units are being added to put anther 600MW on the grid on completion. But the delay is trivial in the multi-year project.

Last Thursday, the District Civil Protection Department held a disaster preparedness meeting following the warning of heavy rains by the Meteorological Services Department.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) chairman for Victoria Falls Mr Farai Chimba said they mobilised food and water for the victims.

Pastor Pinias Sibanda of the ECG Victoria Falls branch handed over a consignment of groceries and goods donated by congregants to the flood victims.

The items included 600kg mealie-meal, 150kg sugar, 120kg flour, 86kg salt, 60 litres cooking oil, clothes and blankets.

“We mobilised these items from members of the church for our Beacon of Hope programme and our mission was to go and give them hope that there is Jesus. We pray that God can restore what they lost,” said Pastor Sibanda.

Hwange Local Board Councillor Fani Chirwa, in whose ward the majority of victims reside, said the immediate needs for the victims were food, clothes and books for children.

She said it was still not safe for the families to go back to their houses as the rains were likely to continue.

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