No end in sight for TANESCO’s current power supply problems

04Dec 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
No end in sight for TANESCO’s current power supply problems

THE power cuts that the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) last month attributed to a two-day clean-up of its Kinyerezi I gas plant have persisted, subjecting homes and businesses to hours of darkness.

TANESCO and the Ministry of Energy have offered a variety of reasons for the blackouts. In October it was the breakage of a cable at the Kidatu power sub-station, and in November it was heavy rains and the clean-up of Kinyerezi I gas plant.

Throughout, both TANESCO and the ministry have been adamant in giving out public assurances that the outages, which have dragged on for months now, would be short and there was no cause for public alarm.

Efforts to get clarification on why the blackouts are still not only continuing, but appear to be becoming more frequent, were futile yesterday as phone calls to TANESCO public relations manager Leila Muhaji remained  unanswered until press time.

In a previous interview with The Guardian last month, Muhaji said any power rationing caused by the Kinyerezi I plant issue would be temporary.

The impact of last October’s Kidatu sub-station cable break spilled over to other power plants along the grid, affecting all connected regions., according to an energy ministry statement.

Minister Dr Medard Kalemani fired the Kidatu power plant manager over the matter, and directed TANESCO’s protection manager to resign voluntarily should the blackouts continue.

But the restoration efforts were then further complicated by heavy rains that deluged the country over the same period, it added.

Electricity being key to most businesses, blackouts lead to massive losses in both the private and public sectors as missed hours of production result in lost revenue, jobs and taxes.

When laying the Kinyerezi II gas plant foundation stone  in March last year,  President John Magufuli directed TANESCO to do away with hiring power generating plants, and instead come up with constructive ideas on how to set up its own power plants.

“Hired plants are very expensive. They are a big burden to consumers who have to pay more to compensate for the high capacity charges, which end up benefiting the companies signing such contract(s) with TANESCO, like in the case of IPTL,” the president pointed out.

He said the country should come to a point where it generates its own supply of reliable electricity, and can sell surplus to other countries.