Switch on Dowans, IPTL now, businesses tell Government By Bethuel Kinyori and Florence Mugarula THE CITIZEN 2009-10-21 The Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) and Dowans electricity plants, currently lying idle in Dar es Salaam, should be switched on immediately, the business community and private sector have advised. The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) yesterday urged the Government to put aside politics and strive to come up with lasting solutions to the current power crisis. These include the switching on of privately owned emergency power generators to prevent a further rise in the cost of doing business. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals was told yesterday that the turbine that broke down three weeks ago at the Songas gas-fired power plant in Dar es Salaam would become operational again before the end of the week. However, the 20MW that will be generated will be way below the 150MW shortfall on the national grid, which has prompted Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) to cut power to consumers for up to 14 hours daily. TPSF chairman Elvis Musiba yesterday called for the intervention of President Jakaya Kikwete. "We urge the President to intervene and allow the IPTL and Dowans generators be switched on immediately," he said at a meeting in Dar es Salaam. Energy and Minerals deputy minister Adam Malima refused to comment when reached by telephone. "For how long are you going to torture us with your questions? How did you get my number? I'm in a meeting. If you have any questions, write them down and bring them to the ministry and they will be answered," he said and hang up. Our calls to State House director of communications Salva Rweyemamu went unanswered. Mr Musiba said the IPTL and Dowans generators had a total capacity of 160MW, adding that the power crisis would end immediately if the plants were used to supply electricity to the national grid. The IPTL diesel generators in Tegeta, Dar es Salaam, are capable of producing 60MW, while the controversial gas-powered Dowans generators in the city's Ubungo area can produce 100MW. "The machines are there. The only problem is that the whole issue is being politicised. The Government needs to seriously consider the impact the rationing is having on the economy," Mr Musiba said. No part of the country should be left without electricity for more than eight hours a day, he said, and added that repercussions for the business climate would be "dire" if the rationing went on for three months or more. "There are some matters of national importance in which the emphasis should be on the economy and business environment rather than politics. This is one of these matters,"he said. Members of the business community concurred with the TPSF appeal, noting that they had been struggling to remain in business since the rationing began earlier this month. "No tourist can tolerate lack of electricity in a hotel. We have to use generators, which are very expensive to run. The money spent on running generators could have been reinvested in the hotel, but it is channelled elsewhere," said Mr Pascal Rutalaka. Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals said Songas Company was working around the clock to repair its 20MW generator, which broke down earlier in the month. Addressing reporters after the committee met with Songas officials for several hours, the committee's chairman, Mr William Shelukindo, said they had been assured that the generator would start operating on Friday. He said, however, that it was unlikely that the rationing would end when the turbine started operating again. "We cannot assure Tanzanians that power rationing will end after the turbine starts working because the demand is huge compared to what the machine can generate," he said. Mr Shelukindo said the committee could not, at the moment, quantify in monetary terms the loss the economy had suffered as a result of the rationing, adding that ample time was needed to make accurate calculations. The suggestion by TPSF came at a time when government officials were engaged in discussions with IPTL managers on how the Tegeta plant could be used to address the power shortage. Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja has been quoted as saying that the move aimed to mitigate the impact of the power shedding blamed on reduced power production at various hydroelectricity plants. He admitted that the Government currently did not have sufficient resources to invest in the energy sector, but dismissed suggestions that the State should nationalise privately owned power plants.