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ZESA to progress with its plan to demolish the 2 Bulawayo cooling towers

Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) has insisted that it plans to go ahead with the demolition of two cooling towers inspite of the residents' out cry. In a statement issue they argued that cooling tower 1 and 2 had gone through manifest advanced symptoms of deterioration, including holes and cracks right through their hyperbolic shells, which compromises structural and functional integrity. “As such, the structures need to be removed to safeguard the general public, power station personnel, electricity generation equipment, buildings, functional cooling towers and neighbouring companies,” Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), a subsidiary of ZESA said in a statement on Friday. It said it had conducted a survey of the towers as part of a feasibility study for a repowering project. “Furthermore, the repowering project will require only four cooling towers, hence, the demolition of cooling towers 1 and 2 will not affect the operation and performance of the repowered plant,” ZPC said. The power utility further said the upgrade of the Bulawayo Power Station required more space to accommodate CFBC boilers and auxiliaries and that meant the two towers should be demolished to make way. “While ZPC appreciates the sentimental value towards the iconic towers by Bulawayo residents, demolition eliminates and ameliorates the aforementioned hazards, thereby, ensuring continued electricity generation in a safe environment and full restoration of the ‘Kontuthu Ziyathunqa’ identity through refurbishment of the cooling towers 3, 4, 5 and 6, which is to be done in support of the repowering project,” the power utility said. ZESA and the Bulawayo City Council are involved in a wrangle over ownership of the power station, with the latter also demanding royalties from the utility. It was claimed earlier this year that ZESA had acquired the lease to the property where the power station sits, but the council insists this was done illegally. When the story emerged that ZESA planned to take down the cooling towers, the city council said it was unaware of this, while residents group, Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association described this as a sideshow to the wrangle over the ownership of the property. The country is at a risk of a blackout as ZESA is unable to pay debt of US $83 million to the South African ESKOM and Mozambique. Bulawayo residents are worried should that the cooling towers are demolished will the company be able to finish the projects. So far the company has a number of unfinished projects including the Gwanda solar project.

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