ZESCO Limited says the countrywide blackout that took place on Saturday morning was due to an unknown fault which forced the company to reboot its entire system in order to restore stability.

And the company has attributed the prolonged power outages in some parts of the country to the heavy storm that damaged various power supply infrastructure.

Speaking when he featured on Muvi TV, Saturday morning, company corporate communications manager Dr John Kunda said the company was forced to declare a “black start” which is a reboot of the entire network.

“We have lost power countrywide as we speak now; there is a countrywide outage of power resulting from a fault that is yet to be determined. So it’s the first time we are announcing this, we have just gotten the news whilst we were on Muvi TV. The country has lost power so most parts of the country do not have power now as we speak. Our engineers have declared what we call a black start. A black start is where the company switches off the main sources of electricity and they reboot the system. So they are rebooting the system as we speak so that they can create stability in the entire network. This usually comes as a result of instability in the system,” Dr Kunda said.

“So it will take maybe one hour for other places to about five to six hours for other places to fully be restored into the entire system. So people may have to prepare to not have power for the next few hours of the day because the company has declared the black start and our team is preparing to reboot the entire system. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused.”

Dr Kunda also apologized for the outages in the last five days and admitted that the company should have handled it better.

“I would like to apologize to our customers for the experiences of the last five days, truly, we could have done better. But there is a reason why I am apologizing, I am apologizing on behalf of the storm that occurred, that storm was huge,” said Dr Kunda.

Meanwhile, in an interview, company public relations manager Hazel Zulu said the recent storm experienced in the country caused a lot of damages to electricity supply infrastructure, thereby causing outages in parts of the country.

“We have had quite a number of outages, I agree and mainly it has been compounded by the heavy downpour that we experienced. You know that we have overhead lines as well as underground cables. So when they are exposed to extreme weather conditions a lot of faults happen and of course in some cases, we have had a lot of tree branches falling on the lines and even the poles. You know that storm was very heavy, so it brought a lot of damage to our infrastructure and that’s what has caused these multiple faults but also, unfortunately, we have experienced quite a number of vandalism cases as well because of people taking advantage of the fact that there is no supply so they tend to try and get away with some cables,” she said.

“When you look at the rains we are talking about, it was not normal rainfall, it was very windy, extremely windy, very heavy. In some cases, you have heard of how rooftops have been blown off. So it’s not like it’s the normal rain or the usual rain that we see. But we are doing everything possible to make sure that we restore, in fact we have deployed engineers in almost the entire Lusaka, in fact, even outside Lusaka, on the Copperbelt we had similar cases. So we have people working 24 hours to ensure that there is restoration and we have restored in some areas.”

Zulu expressed optimism that the faults experienced at Kariba and Kafue Gorge Upper would be fixed in time so that normal supply could be restored.

“We said there is a fault on one unit at Kariba and the other unit at Kafue Gorge upper and what was said is that the projection according to our technical team is that these works should be concluded by the 7th of November. We are very hopeful, that’s the projection we were given that by the 7th, the works should be concluded which means that, remember we had lost 250MW, which means we will be back on normal supply. Remember the issue of faults is something that we don’t plan for, so we cannot rule out faults because we are dealing with machines,” said Zulu.