WORK on the expansion of the Hwange Power Station Stage 7 and 8 expansion is on track with 26 percent ground work having been covered so far, Sunday Business has learnt.
The Government contracted Chinese company, Sinohydro for the thermal project expected to inject an additional 600MW thermal power plant at a cost of US$1,5 billion and set to be commissioned by 2022.
Speaking during a briefing with the Minister of Energy and Power Development Advocate Fortune Chasi before a tour of the expansion project on Thursday, project site manager Engineer Edmund Mukahandira said although they had missed the 27 percent target this time they were on track as measures were in place to recoup lost time. “Though we had targeted to have covered 27,8 percent we have, however, managed 26,7 percent of the project. We are putting measures in place to recoup lost time so that we meet our December target of 30 percent. While the power station is being built, work is also underway for the transmission line where 95 percent of the land-clearing phase has been covered. While we have existing infrastructure there is going to be new one which will comprise 1 Line 400kV and two sub-stations will be added to the grid for stability to enable transmission of additional power from the new plant,” said Eng Mukahandira.
He said they were working on foundations of Unit 7 boiler and chimney construction while Sherwood B site levelling was underway. “We are currently working on the foundation works of Unit 7 boiler while the construction of the 140m chimney has begun after its foundation was completed. Site levelling of Sherwood B is also underway while the project offices have since been completed.”
The scope of works to be covered will include construction of boilers, turbines and generators while civil works will involve building of Turbine house, Boiler house, Cooling tower, Chimney, Raw water reservoir, Power station roads, Workshops and Plant control building among others. The plant will also make use of the latest technology in terms of pollution and emission control measures since combustion of coal is a source of air pollution. Outside of a coal handling plant including stacker reclaimer, ash handling plant, the plant will also boost a limestone handling and water treatment plant.
Eng Mukahandira called on the Government to assist in the foreign currency challenges as well as availing diesel, which was also affecting operations at the plant.
“ZPC requires forex for example for payment of consultancy services, counterparty funding and Escrow fund maintenance. The Exim-Import Bank of China, raised serious concern on the transformation of the escrow account from USD account to Zimbabwean dollar as a result of SI 142 of 2019. Delayed IPC 2 & 3 payments No 4 to 8. We are also facing availability of diesel for construction works in which initial projection was 3 million litres. The supplier is not willing to import citing challenges with duty reimbursement hence we are now buying from the local market for which there is no entitlement to duty refund. We call upon the Government to waiver of duty on diesel or refund in ZWL using spot rate on date of reimbursement.”
Speaking after the tour of the project, Minister Chasi said he was impressed with work done so far and expressed confidence that completion of the power station will be an economic enabler.
“I’m deeply excited by the amount of work done, so far I’m very proud of ZPC and the contractor working here. This is my first time since my appointment that I have come here. There is significant work being done here, this is a very important project for this country that is going to assure us of power.
“The new units done here at the end of it will give us 600MW from 2021 and that will make a huge difference to the power in the country. This is just one of the investments, work is also being done on the other units so all that should give us as a country real confidence, trust and faith that our country is going high.”
The project is set to employ over 4 000 people with 114 housing units earned for construction for some of the workers.