Zimbabwe stops passport production
By Felex Share
HARARE- The Registrar-General’s Office has stopped processing passports following an electrical fault caused by the power blackout that hit most parts of the country on Wednesday night. The blackout damaged the processing system at Makombe Building.
Registrar-General Mr Tobaiwa Mudede yesterday said the suspension affected passports and Temporary Travel Documents. He said they were only processing urgent passports using “alternative means”.
This comes at a time when thousands of people, mainly those working in South Africa, are seeking to renew their passports and process their travelling documents before returning in the New Year. Some Zimbabweans are also seeking documents which will allow them to stay in South Africa legally.
“Following the blackout in the Harare Business District area last night (Wed-nesday) we have had an electrical problem affecting our system at Makombe Building. We do not know the cause yet,” said Mr Mudede.
“However, we have not completely shut down. We are using alternative means to process urgent passports only until the problem is rectified.” Engineers were working “flat out” to rectify the fault.
The RG’s office was hit by the same problem, at the same time last year when it suspended the issuance of identification documents following another electrical fault at the KGVI production centre.
The department failed to process computerised documents as a result of the fault. Parts of the country were plunged into darkness following a system disturbance that emanated from Zambia and affected Kariba Power Station on Wednesday.
The electrical fault, Zesa officials said, resulted in the country losing 740 megawatts. Zesa spokesperson Mr Shepherd Mandizvidza yesterday said the power utility had managed to fix all the six generators that were down at Kariba Power Station.
He said other parts of the country subsequently experienced the blackout after it hit Harare. Gweru, Masvingo, Bulawayo, Mutare, Kwekwe, Chinhoyi and Bindura were affected. Mr Mandizvidza said the power utility had reverted to its normal load-shedding schedule.
“Supplies are back to normal. Most of the power outages now occurring are a result of the rainy season,” he said. “Electricity faults are being caused by trees falling on power lines, lightning strikes and water sipping into underground cables.
“For instance, power outages that hit areas like Cranborne, Msasa, Braeside and Hatfield just before the Christmas Holidays were as a result of a substation that was struck by lightning.” Mr Mandizvidza said people mistook those occurrences for load-shedding.
He said other power outages were a result of vandalism and theft. “You cannot leave those factors as they are having a negative impact on power supplies,” he said. The blackout affected business in the city centre and surrounding industries. Yesterday, most industries failed to operate due to power shortages and some residential areas in Harare were still without electricity.