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Morupule Power project delayed by strike and boiler failures

IMG 3183Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso MokailaTarget dates for completing the 600MW Morupule Power Project have reportedly been delayed by various reasons such as truckers strike action in South Africa (which barred movement of equipment from Durban to site) and inclement weather in 2010/11. The total cost of the project is P11.1billion.

"The delays were, however, compounded by other problems encountered during commissioning, which included, among others, blockages and a steam tube leak on boilers 1 and 2 respectively. Contractor's non compliance with the Safety, Health, and Environmental (SHE) standards did also contribute to the delays," said Kitso Mokaila, Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources.

Parliament was told Wednesday that after May 2012 to date, a number of problems surfaced both technical and legal, the key ones being:

  • the Main Contractor's failure to comply with Safety, Health and Environment standards, which resulted in three fatalities;
  • boiler failures, albeit not quite similar, became frequent;
  • the project was behind schedule, with telling effects on the BPC's finances, with the commissioning of the first Unit being more than 12 months behind; and
  • technical integrity of the plant was in question.

As a result of these issues the Botswana Power Corporation(BPC) suspended all work at height activities, increased site checks, increased the number of security personnel at the site to strengthen the enforcement and appointed a professional SHE Firm (NOSA) to assist in implementation of the SHE plan. A specialized third party firm to erect scaffolding at site that conforms to the safety standards and applicable regulations was also introduced.

To address concerns created by the boiler failures and technical integrity of the plant, the Government agreed with the World Bank to the appointment of aurecon AME Limited to undertake a quick two week audit of the plant. "The quick audit revealed that for the major pieces of equipment there were "no fundamental design flaws" that would contribute to inadequate operation. Some key information on the major plant corroborates with aurecon's AME Limited findings that there are " no fundamental design flaws" that would contribute to inadequate operation of the power plant," said Mokaila.

Mokaila acknowledged that the telling effects brought about by the inordinate delay in bringing the power plant into service have been severe, such as the prolonged and widespread load shedding.

Mokaila insisted, "The Government's main focus is to bring the 600MWMorupule B Power plant into service in as short a time as possible. The problems have been indentified and remedial action is being taken, including strengthening of the BPC Project Management Staff."

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