Sunday, January 16, 2022

“All units at Morupule B have collapsed” ÔÇô Mokaila

All of the four units at Morupule Power station have ground to a standstill, the Minister of Minerals Energy and Water Resources, Kitso Mokaila has confirmed to The Telegraph in an interview.

He said the country is currently importing all but a tiny fraction of its power from the southern African Power pool, which he said is in a respectable surplus state because being summer there is less demand across the sub continent.

But even then the Pool has not been able to meet all of Botswana’s energy needs since various parts of the country have over the last two weeks been experiencing intermittent bouts of load shedding.

Only the Matshelagabedi and the Orapa Power Stations are generating electricity, said Mokaila.

The situation could have been worse had the units at Morupule collapsed before the end of winter, said Minister Mokaila.

“Our priority was always to survive the winter season on self-sufficiency, which by the way we did. This is because in winter there is no surplus power in the regional Pool for us to import,” said Mokaila.

For the first time the Minister acknowledged that the situation with Morupule “B” had not been as good as government had hoped.

This is notwithstanding the promises that were made by various officials in government including at one point by President Ian Khama that load shedding would henceforth be a thing of the past.

In the past our sister publication, Sunday Standard ran a story to the effect that all units at Morupule had failed the minimum efficacy tests but that a political decision was taken by government following public uproar but also to validate the promises by politicians.

Morupule “B” has become a hot political potato with the public demanding answers on how it could be that such an expensive capital project could miss so many deadlines and fail to deliver the much promised results.

At P15 billion, Morupule “B” is by far the most expensive project ever undertaken in Botswana to date.

The World Bank which is part of the syndicated creditors of the project has already voiced concern on the capacity of Botswana Government to deliver the project of this magnitude.

Botswana Government has since invited the Americans, the French and the Germans to help to do a diagnostic analysis of the project that is developed by the Chinese engineering contractor, CNEC.

“It is true that we are on a back foot. But it is also true that right now we know what the problem is,” said Mokaila.

The breakdown of all the units at Morupule “B” will put paid to similar such promises previously made by Mokaila and others in Government.

The Telegraph can confirm that the latest breakdown of all the units at Morupule has stretch Botswana government patience with CNEC, already strained, to the limit.

Even more worrying for Botswana Government is that the breakdown happens with hardly two weeks to the General Elections.
Troubles besieging the development of Morupule “B” have always been seized on by opposition to paint a picture of corruption and incompetence.

Opposition parties have always pointed out that it was wrong for Botswana Government to have used a Chinese Contractor against which they had been advised by the Chinese Embassy in Gaborone.

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