By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The Zimbabwean government on Tuesday resolved to reestablish the implementation plan for the 100 megawatt (MW) Gwanda Solar Project after its contractor, Intratrek Zimbabwe vowed to deliver the first 10MW within six months after signing of financial closure agreements.
Energy Minister Fortune Chasi said the contract was to be undertaken with a team of renowned power project experts and US$14 million mobilised by African Transmission Corporation, a “ready-made” loan funding commitment for delivery of the first 10MW under the new phased project plan.
He added he would demand to see “the colour of the money”, being proof of project funding, before any of the parties in the multi-million dollar project puts pen to paper on the revival of the project.
“The parties are currently talking; they are negotiating to ensure compliance with an earlier High Court order on a standing contractual dispute. But yes, Cabinet gave approval for the project to go ahead after consideration of the circumstances and facts on the ground,” Chasi said.
Initially, when the contract was signed in 2012, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) purportedly cancelled the contract citing breach of contract, alleging Intratrek had not performed as agreed despite receiving payment without availing a bank guarantee as agreed.
The company however said the State power utility had frustrated the contract after causing the arrest of its director, Wicknell Chivayo, on what it claimed were “trumped up” criminal charges.
While ruling on the contractual dispute between Zesa and Intratrek over delays to the project, which ZPC lost, High Court Judge Justice Chitapi pointed out that electricity was not generated in the courts and board rooms, but at power stations and urged the feuding parties to dialogue and stop being “dilatory” in their approach.
“The contract was signed in 2015, but to date little has happened on the ground because of litigation, which is still ongoing yet the country is in a precarious power situation.
“Also, the fact that disengaging the current contractor will take an inordinate time will not be consistent with our current (dire power) situation.
“We have taken a robust and pragmatic stance on the project, it needs to move in earnest upon financial closure to make sure that the first 10MW are delivered within six months of financial closure; that is in 2021 and the remainder by 2022,” Chasi added. Nehanda Radio