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BPC declares P11 billion Morupule B power plant ‘unreliable’

Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) has finally stopped playing to the gallery and conceded that the most expensive project ever undertaken in Botswana spurning to 11 billion being Morupule B “is suffering from construction defects which need to be addressed.”

The pronouncement comes at a time Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources (MMEWR) Kitso Mokaila’ s gone-wax-lyrical on the matter. The Minister had several times spoke in carefully loaded terms about the misgivings that engulfed the power plant and his timing and deadline missed the boat more than twice.  

It is understood that a Gap Analysis Review of the multi-billion pula power station was carried out and completed in December 2014 to determine measures to address the construction defects which have rendered the plant unreliable.

The defects remediation status illustrates that the major issues to be addressed at the 600 MW expansion of BPC’s then sole existing power station of Morupule A – were identified in the “boilers” and solutions to address these issues are now on the offing.

To get their ducks in a row, BPC officials say the defects will be remedied by qualified contractors and with good quality material and equipment from reputable suppliers. “The implementation of remedial measures is estimated to take up to 3 Years,” Nchena Z. Mothebe, the BPC Director Transmission has said this week in Gaborone.
BPC through a 4th annual key customer seminar initiated to interact with and engage its business clientele, says they have kept their fingers on the pulse and are working on the implementation of the measures to improve plant reliability and provide full output of the plant.

According to the Director in the Transmission department, 2 of 4 units are currently in operation at Morupule B. Unit 1 and 3 are currently in operation while unit 2 is expected to be back in service by mid-December. Unit 4 is on statutory outage till mid-January 2016, he assured the gathering which was comprised of various business kingpins including Manager of Phakalane suburban area Lesang Magang who expressed reservations about power outages and late bills as well as how they literally do no function in the absence of power transmission especially to their heartbeat business of the Phakalane Golf Estate.

In addition more investors at the gathering, who thronged the meeting in decent numbers and seemingly looked stressed out as the discussions pondered on, have narrated different stories of how their profits has hit an all-time-low due to inconsistent and unannounced power cuts.  

This is also believed to hamper the roll-out of the newly much talked about Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) – a government initiative aimed at motivating the economy for more growth. Reliable power supply was seen as an enabler to implementation of ESP and failing which will be dire domino-effect.  

Morupule B was well-thought-out as an upshot of the country’s worryingly reliance on importing approximately 80% of its power from neighbouring South Africa’s power giant Eskom which was reduced in subsequent recent years due to power crisis at the country as well.

It was said that the contract between Eskom and BPC involving the 300mw (when available) “will be extended from January 2016 to December 2018.” In addition the country also extracts between 20 to 100mw from Mozambique in which 20mw is available during peak hours.

However the BPC hands-on official stated that the regional power supply deficit will make “firm regional agreements difficult.” Weekend Post understands that due to mismanagement by the plant contractor China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC) which wielded deferrals of the project spiraling beyond the targeted 2012 and use of substandard material – the initially engaged CNEEC later fell out with government.

Consequently a German company, STEAG Energy Services was awarded by MMEWR Minister Mokaila (and government) to take over the project which entailed the maintenance and operation services at the Power Station. Meanwhile this publication has learnt that nonetheless the defects still persists.

With regard to Morupule A refurbishment project, the corporation has also updated on Wednesday that they have identified a contractor to carry out major overhauls of Units 1, 2 and 4 and refurbishment of Unit 3.

“Upfront project preparatory works were commenced in October 2015 while BPC is negotiating a contract for refurbishing Morupule A with the preferred bidder,” they stated.

The Morupule A project signposts that there will be sections 1 to 4 and each will churn out 30MW which will be commercially operational by October 2016. Only section 4 will trail in the succeeding year in October 2017. All the sections in Morupule A are projected to reach a total capacity of 120MW.

Morupule A was mothballed in October 2012, and so far the transactional advisors have been appointed, and limited notice to proceed signed with EPC contractor.

More projects to curb power crisis

In addition the beleaguered corporation’s renewal energy projects comprise solar thermal which has a capacity of 100MW and are targeted to be operationalized by 2017/18. Expressions of

Interests for the project are being evaluated after 118 bids were received following the closing date on August 2015.

According to BPC executives, another project involving renewable energy is awaiting cabinet approval for a go-ahead and it involves 75mw.

Other projects on the pipeline include IPP Brown Field which is directed for conclusion in 2018/19 and predicted to supply 300mw, as well as a project of IPP Green field involving 300mw and to be finalised in 2020/21.

Fresh information suggests that the Public Procurement  and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB)  has given nod to government request  to award Owners Engineer contract for greenfield energy project as BPC moves to plug the energy gap. The Owner Engineer will overlook the addition of 2 more units at Morupule namely 5 and 6. The complex currently has 6 units after the addition of 4 units at Morupule B which is struggling to work at full capacity.

BPC warns power supply still on the red light

BPC has emphasized that the power supply situation in the country will remain precarious till 2018/19 when:
1. Morupule A Power Station will be fully refurbished (by end of 2017)
2. Morupule B Power Station remedial maintenance will be done (2018 end)
3. Morupule B 5 & 6 Power Station to be commissioned by 2018/19
 

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Khan: Boko, Masisi are fake politicians

18th January 2021
Masisi & Boko

While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.

Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.

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Ookeditse rejects lobby for BPF top post

18th January 2021
LAWRENCE-OOKEDITSE

Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.

Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.

Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”

“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.

He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.

He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.

According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.

There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.

Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.

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BDP cancels MPs retreat

18th January 2021
President Masisi

Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.

“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication.
The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.

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