ZESCO Limited has announced that increased load shedding will continue throughout this current quarter, pending the review of the water allocation from the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA) and coming onstream of the Kafue Gorge Lower Hydropower plant.

In an interview, Zesco senior corporate affairs manager Dr John Kunda explained that the heightened load shedding in some parts of the country was due to ongoing maintenance works undertaken at Maamba Collieries for 60 days and limited water allocation at Kariba.

“Currently, Maamba is down due to maintenance for one of their machines for 60 days. So, it was scheduled for maintenance, we had planned for it, that’s why we had planned for a deficit in this last part of January,” Dr Kunda said.

He said with the current 15 billion cubic litres allocation by the ZRA, the power utility was only able to generate 395MW of power, meaning that load shedding will persist for the rest of this quarter.

“For the first quarter, we’ll continue with load shedding as Kariba has not increased that allocation, it is still at 15 billion, and with 15 billion, we can only generate an average of 395MW. So, until the review is done, we shall continue with load shedding. So, this quarter, we will continue with load shedding until KGL (Kafue Gorge Lower) comes live and the allocation by Zambezi River Authority is reviewed. The ideal allocation is 22.5 billion,” he said.

And when asked about progress made at Kafue Gorge Lower, Dr Kunda said that construction was completed, but that reliability tests were currently being done to ensure the machines ran seamlessly when they begin supply to the national grid.

“Basically, we are done, we were doing technical assessments and internal runs; switching them on; checking if they are running correctly; where there is a fault; it is looked at and the like… So, they are at ‘testing phase’ for reliability and ensuring that all is in place. So, that’s where we are. We should have switched on the first machine in December, there was a component that was missing, that hadn’t arrived until end of December, it hadn’t come; it came I think first week of January, then they fired up to the test run, that’s when they started that phase of reliability testing. So, in construction, those were expected that we may have a delay resulting from a technical issue. But in this particular (case), there was one component that had delayed in coming, which was one of the final components. But it came through and they installed it. In terms of installation, that is basically done,” said Dr Kunda.