2009-10-13 07:42:00 Power crisis: Tough times aheadEnergy and Minerals deputy minister Adam Malima addresses journalists in Dar es Salaam yesterday after attending a meeting that also involved the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals and the Tanesco board. Others are Tanesco managing director Idris Rashidi (left) and deputy board chairman Semindu Pawa.No solution in sight as sabotage suggestion angers Tanesco boss By Vicent Mnyanyika and Paul Dotto Electricity consumers appear headed for tough times ahead, with Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) indicating that only torrential rains could save the country from a prolonged power crisis. Grappling with rising electricity shortage, Tanesco now subjects consumers to14-hour power cuts throughout the country, and details tabled before the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals yesterday painted an even gloomier picture. Tanesco managing director Idris Rashidi presented members of the committee with a power generation status report that, among other things, indicated that long rains, which are not guaranteed, were the only sure way of easing the power rationing. According to Dr Rashidi, other opportunities to increase power generation to ease the shortage of about 100MW on the national grid were anticipated in November. These include the repair of a 20MW Songas turbine that collapsed last month and operationalising the 45MW Tegeta gas turbine, whose implementation has been delayed for technical reasons. Other measures to normalise the situation will remain untenable until 2011 and 2013. They include fresh talks to convince Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL), whose contract to supply 100MW had been suspended, to reopen its line and the fast tracking of the supply of 200MW from the Kiwira coal mine. Tanesco hopes that heavy rains will start falling soon and fill the dams at Kihansi and Hale hydroelectric plants, which have capacities of 60MW and 8MW, respectively, and raise the outputs of other hydro stations to fix the situation in the interim. The situation has not been helped by reports that investors are apparently shying away from taking up an opportunity to invest in a $70 million (Sh98 billion) emergency power-generating contract. Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja has been quoted as saying the planned project had not attracted any bids. The committee's briefing meeting was held in Dar es Salaam and attended by top Tanesco officials led by board chairman Semindu Pawa and Energy and Minerals ministry officials led by deputy minister Adam Malima. The meeting was held against a backdrop of a growing power supply crisis, with industry watchers fearing a scenario worse that what was experienced in early 2006 when the country went without electricity for up to 24 hours in some places. Yesterday, according to sources who attended the meeting, Tanesco bosses put up a spirited defence against allegations of neglect or sabotage, with Dr Rashidi saying an imbalance between demand and generation was to blame for the current rationing. He said Tanesco could only produce 697 MW against a demand of 769MW. Decreased generation is blamed on falling water levels at hydro-dams due to drought. An MP, who spoke to The Citizen on condition of anonymity because he is not the committee's spokesperson, said a report by the committee chaired by Bumbuli MP William Shelukindo had also absolved Tanesco of blame for the latest power rationing. Dr Rashidi later rejected questions from reporters who wanted to establish if Tanesco had a hand in the situation. He was also angered when reminded of his remarks early in the year, when he warned that failure to buy the controversial 100MW Dowans power plant would lead to a power supply deficit around this time. But Mr Malima denied the ongoing countrywide power rationing was as a result of sabotage. The deputy minister said the capacity to generate electricity had been greatly reduced. Mr Malima was forced to intervene and answer questions from reporters after Dr Rashidi failed to explain his prediction that the country would be plunged into darkness if the Government did not buy the Dowans plant. Mr Malima said: "There is no sabotage in the ongoing power rationing, what Dr Rashidi said was forecasting this period as an expert." The minister confirmed Tanesco was holding talks with IPTL for the purchase of its power plant should the parties reach a court settlement in a capacity charge payment dispute at the international commercial disputes court. Eelier, Mr Shelukindo said his committee had given and approved Tanesco's plans to purchase two generators with a capacity of yielding 160MW for Dar es Salaam (100MW) and Mwanza (60MW). Mr Shelukindo also said his committee had directed Tanesco and the Government to make sure their plans do not take long to be completed. "The Government told us that they have funds for purchasing these two generators and the process is underway. The committee has welcomed the moves and we are looking forward to seeing implementations," said Mr Shelukindo. He, however, warned that the country would remain in limbo should the Government and Tanesco fail to act fast.