The US$1,5 billion Hwange Thermal Power Station Expansion project is now 40 percent complete with the contractor, Sino Hydro, optimistic that the project will meet the January 2022 deadline.
The project is expected to add 600MW to the national grid and is one of the key infrastructure development initiatives meant to stimulate economic growth in the country.
According to ZBC News, a delegation from the Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister’s office visited the site last Friday to assess progress. Site manager, Engineer Forbes Chanakira, told the delegation that despite foreign currency challenges, notable progress has been made in construction with the entire project now 40 percent complete.
“We are now in the 19th month and as I have already indicated that Unit 7 start-up is expected on the 25th of April that’s the initial commissioning, which will run for six months and then after the pre-commissioning will then have the commercial operation date around October 2021,” said Eng Chanakira.
Sino Hydro project site manager, Engineer Tang Zhaolai, said while the Coronavirus outbreak might result in delayed shipment of some essential materials, measures have been put in place to reduce the risk, adding that the project remains on schedule.
“For this project, we tried to reduce the risks to the project, for instance, we have cancelled all flight tickets for our staff from China coming to this side.
“We have also stopped staff going to China for vacation,” he explained.
A deputy director in Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs Minister Richard Moyo’s office, Mr Tapera Mugoriya, stressed the significance of the project in stimulating economic activities and growth of the domestic economy.
“This project will be commissioned during the same time with another mega project, the Gwayi-Shangani Dam. For Matabeleland North province, though it’s a national project we are proud to be hosting this and are confident it will benefit the province,” he said Mr Mugoriya.
It is hoped that for the next 10 months, the contractor will focus on construction of the main building and the boiler as well as commence mechanical works.
To date, a total of 2 506 people have been employed with the manpower level expected to go beyond 3 000 during the peak phase.
In June 2018, President Mnangagwa officiated at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hwange Thermal Power Station Expansion project, which had failed to take off for over 10 years due to funding constraints.
This was after Zimbabwe was frozen out of the global economy over land reform at the turn of the millennium.
Progress on the project started moving after President Mnangagwa’s State visit to in April 2018, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping authorised financing of the power project. — ZBC News/The Chronicle