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Malawi power outages: Is it permanent?

Mutharika must resign
No hope to easing blackouts

By Burnett Munthali

As you read this article, some parts of Lilongwe city did not have power on Tuesday 6 December 2022 as early as 04:00 am where we work and the typing of this very article was affected. Those who would like to have an early morning shave, those who would like to do their welding and fabrication are stuck as we speak because they cannot work without power. Everyone is engulfed in the dark waiting for yet another long hours without power.

Malawians trusted ESCOM and EGENCO in their statements when they said the country would experience power outages until December 2022. The people of this country have persevered and endured the pain of experiencing power blackouts throughout the year but with the hope in mind it would come to an end by the end of the year 2022. Malawians have been patiently counting down.

However, Malawians have an issue here which keeps stressing them further. ESCOM and EGENCO should sit down and find out the real cause of these continued power outages and find a lasting solution that the never ending speeches, promises and deadlines being given to the people of Malawi each time.

“We are tired of national blackouts !,” commented Lloyd Mbwana on social media.

“I think its a sabotage,” another social media user teasingly said.

” EGENCO, with floods of this rain season or last year !. Learn to tell the nation the truth. Malawians know who to blame. Just wash your hands. By the way, you keep your own floods. There is power blackouts at Griffin Saenda sports complex while the game between Zimbabwe and RSA is in progress.
Thus volleyball, So embarrassing !,” some Malawians have reacted differently due to frequent power outages.

Government of Malawi needs to listen to the people of Malawi as they speak out on these issues of ESCOM and EGENCO.

You will remember that that EGENCO and ESCOM gave an excuse that power outages will come to an end by December 2022 but what makes Malawians wonder is that as the rain season has started that’s when Malawians are experiencing more power blackouts in most parts of the country for longer hours than ever before. People are questioning out there that if the challenge of power outages keeps on persisting at the beginning of rain season, how much power blackouts are they going to experience when it begins to rain heavily? The citizens are asking Malawi government to find lasting solutions to electricity power outages like the previous government had done. If it means increasing the workforce at ESCOM in readiness to deal with any oncoming faults because of heavy rains let there be such teams ready to be deployed 24/7 so that customers do not suffer during this festive season and in future. Malawians are pleading with all concerned officials in this matter to decisively take action without any politics. Maybe some Malawians could get temporary job opportunities as well help the power providers ESCOM-EGENCO stand their ground.

Some four months ago the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) and Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO) institute joint investigations into frequent system shutdowns which were causing national blackouts in the country, energy experts said the country should rethink the introduction of renewable energy into the national grid.

ESCOM announced joint investigations into the system shutdowns in a statement following a shutdown Sunday which came within 24 hours of another shutdown that occurred on Saturday.

They said that this was abnormal and as such, ESCOM and EGENCO had jointly instituted a team to investigate the cause of these frequent system shutdowns, the statement read in part.

When asked what they suspect to be causes of these shutdowns, ESCOM Chief Executive Officer Kamkwamba Kumwenda said EGENCO was better placed to comment, saying the problems were coming from the generation not the distribution side of the chain.

EGENCO Chief Executive Officer (CEO) William Liabunya did not pick his mobile phone on several attempts but energy experts Grain Malunga and Kandi Padambo in separate interviews said the shutdowns could be coming from imbalances caused by renewable sources of energy, especially solar.

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) had announced that its residential and some industrial customers will have no power supply for a maximum of 14 hours on Saturday 30th July and Sunday 31st July 2022 countrywide.

In a statement released on a Wednesday, ESCOM said the prolonged load shedding would occur on both days due to a further reduction in power supply by 100 Megawatts (MW) on Saturday and 135MW on Sunday.

During that period, the major supplier of ESCOM, Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO), would be carrying out emergency maintenance works on Nkula B intake structures which would necessitate shutting down of Nkula B Power Station on Saturday 30th July 2022 and both Nkula B and Nkula A Power stations on Sunday, 31st July 2022,” the statement read.

In the latest communication seen today on Tuesday 6 December, 2022, Electricity Generation Company of Malawi Limited says they are experiencing flush floods in the power stations. As such they have been forced to shut down some machines to protect the intake structures from damage. They will keep Malawians posted on the situation.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude that Malawians are tired of announcements, press releases and explanations by the two power generation and distribution companies who seem to know their job but are sometimes seen to be guessing what to tell the citizens of this country. Government should step in and stop this drama and comedy about power blackouts because they are not taking this country anywhere but simply driving towards poverty.

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