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ZPC engaging Chivayo to resume controversial Gwanda Solar Project

by Staff reporter
19 Mar 2024 at 19:56hrs | Views
The Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) is engaging Intratek to push it to resume works at the contested 100 MW Gwanda Solar Project in Matabeleland South province, Parliament heard on Tuesday.

Intratrek Zimbabwe, owned by controversial businessman and socialite Wicknell Chivayo, was awarded the tender for the engineering, procurement, and construction of a 1 000 Megawatt Gwanda Solar Power Station.

It was awarded as the lowest compliant bidder to specification out of 6 bidders at US$173 million.

The company was paid US$5 million for pre-commencement works such as site clearance and feasibility studies but after delays in implementing the project, ZPC terminated the contract and went on to report Chivayo to the police for fraud.

After a lengthy trial which started at the magistrates courts and ended at the Supreme Court in January last year, Chivayo and Intratrek were acquitted of fraud and the court ruled that the contract was still valid.

The Supreme Court also issued a decree compelling ZPC to perform its contractual obligations.

Presenting oral evidence before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy, ZPC acting managing director Norbet Matarutse said discussions were underway for works on the solar project to resume.

"The Supreme Court made a judgement that we need to go back to the contract that we signed with Intratek in 2015 which is what we are doing. We seek to make sure that we abide by the ruling of the Supreme Court," he said.

ZPC legal adviser Tungamirai Chinhengo, told the committee that the US$5 million paid to Intratek was for the commencement works but legislators were of the view that state funds were wasted on land clearance.

"The parties are currently engaging each other with a view to resume works at the Gwanda solar project. However I want to clarify a position which has been misinterpreted about the US$22 million damages.

"The issue of damages has never been ordered by any court in respect of this. The High Court and Supreme court never ordered anything in respect of damages to Intratek," he said.

He said ZPC and Intratek were also in discussions to alter the contract price.

"Global solar pricing has reduced quite significantly due to technological improvements so the parties are in discussion in terms of contract price and modus operandi in the interest of time that has lapsed since 2015," he said.

Zimbabwe is experiencing crippling power shortages due to reduced generation at the Kariba Hydroelectric plant as a result of low water levels caused by drought.

As a result, the issue of the Gwanda Solar project has become topical as some members of the public accuse Chivayo of contributing to the situation by not keeping his side of the bargain.

Commenting after winning the case in the Supreme Court in January last year, Chivayo vowed to fast-track and complete the solar project to help alleviate the electricity crisis bedevilling the country.

He said company financiers and technical partners were ready and willing to implement the project within the shortest possible time, adding it could deliver 10 MW of electricity within six months, and another 90 MW within 24 months.


Source - New Ziana
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