I am one of those people who was appalled by the way ZESA handled their solar power plant bids. Say what you will, I take it is as a clear sign of the rot at parastatals that a company managed by a man convicted of fraud was handed money in advance. The much talked about solar plants have to this day, more than 5 years later, not materialised. Why am I not surprised?
Well, it seems ZESA has learnt its lesson with regards to Intratrek, which Mr Chivayo represented in the solar bid. According to a report in the Herald, they have decided to snub Intratrek in their Gairezi bid which will see the winner of the tender building a Hydroelectric power station on the Gairezi river.
I am glad to note that ZESA has learnt that in colloquial terms Intratek vakomana. The guys you call in when you want to save a buck who might or might not do a good job. Apart from a sad looking website with a rather strange domain name, where they list a very thin team with no one from the Engineering department, a gallery with zero past projects and shows the team posing with powerful politicians, Intratek has virtually zero real visibility in Zimbabwe apart from its Managing director who is known for his socialite habits. This is a typical tendepreneur company like the ones that abound in South Africa.
ZESA promises to cut the middle man
According to the Herald, ZESA amended the project last year so as to exclude local players. Most of the equipment would be imported anyway which would mean local players would simply add to the cost (zino). This is after Intratrek, despite failing miserably to deliver the solar power plant, had jointly won the Gairezi bid with two other Indian firms back in 2015 when the tender was floated.
According to Zesa spokesman Fullard Gwasira:
The contract with the local partner was terminated last year and we are dealing with the supplier directly in line with interest of delivering a least cost project to the people of Zimbabwe.
Lessons were also learnt from previous experience (on) the benefits of dealing directly with actual supplier.
The project progress so far…Don’t hold your breath
According to Mr Gwasira, the project’s initial preparatory works for the Gairezi project has been completed and the power utility is now seeking to raise the requisite funding. He would have us believe the project is going to commence soon but do not hold your breath.
Zimbabwe’s power deficit is nothing new. We have all heard it before: Zimbabwe requires 1 600MW (used to be around 2 000MW but a lot of industries closed reducing demand) but we only generate 1 400MW (all those upgrades have not really changed anything much). This is due to decades of infrastructure neglect by the government.
To close this deficit the government, like a decapitated chicken, has concocted one hare-brained scheme after another. This includes the ill-fated solar project which seems to have been forgotten or maybe it’s in limbo like digitisation whose progress goes back and forth depending on the moment.
Then there is also the famous Batoka project which is often cited as being close to fruition. Last time we heard of this one the government said General Electric was interested in implementing the project. While Batoka was envisioned a very long time ago back in Rhodesia, Gairezi is not a spring chicken project either.
All the preliminary work and feasibility studies were done back in the 2000s and even the Herald admits not much progress has been made except the tender award of 2015. Mostly because the government does not have the most important ingredient. They do not have funding.
Claiming a project is close to fruition when you haven’t secured funding is a dumb lie. It is just a daydream like me dreaming of buying a house in The Hamptons and claiming my dream is closer to being fulfilled when I can barely afford a kombi to work.