Why govt delays threaten Tanesco 408bn/- projects

Tanzanians should brace themselves for more power woes after it emerged that Tanesco has failed to secure a multi-billion shilling loan to finance emergency power projects due to the government’s indecision on guaranteeing the deal.

The Citizen on Saturday has reliably learnt that Citibank had agreed to loan Tanesco Sh408 billion under government guarantee, but the latter appears to have developed cold feet, which has frustrated efforts to produce more power and end recurrent rationing.

The setback is likely to lead to more power cuts in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country as Tanesco cannot afford to buy fuel to run emergency power plants.  Already there have been concerns over the resumption of power rationing following frequent outages in recent weeks, which Tanesco has not come out to explain.

A World Bank-funded study released yesterday revealed that there had been more and longer power cuts reported in recent months than in 2010. Businesses are already complaining that the recent outages have adversely impacted on their operations.

On Wednesday, the permanent secretary in the ministry of Energy and Minerals, Mr Eliakim Maswi, categorically denied that there was power rationing anywhere in the country. He said the ministry was unaware of power problems in the city.

He said: “Where do you live? I also reside in a street like you and I have not witnessed power cuts as you are trying to explain to me…everything is okay. Where did you see power rationing?”

Two major emergency power producers, Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) and Aggreko, drastically reduced the amount of electricity they supply to the national grid early this year because their generators were unable to operate at full capacity. 

Yesterday, a Tanesco official, who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the current power outages had been caused by technical problems and not rationing.

He said Symbion stopped operations for the past two weeks as it was undertaking large-scale maintenance of its plants.  Two transformers that serve the city also had problems and the areas affected had to be connected to a transformer at Kijitonyama.

“The only transformer was overloaded and this caused rationing in certain parts of the city at certain times of the day,” he said. A replacement is unlikely to be found soon as it has to be imported. 

The chairman of Parliament’s Energy and Minerals Committee, Mr January Makamba, said the 408bn/-  billion was part of funds meant for purchasing fuel to run Aggreko, IPTL and Symbion to generate about 300 megawatts, Mr Makamba said. “Now, I’m told, they generate as little as 10 megawatts whenever money is available to purchase fuel.” 
Source: The Citizen,www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by Polycarp Machira and Sylivester Ernest
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