Load shedding at schools and hospitals now unavoidable, says govt

Energy and Power Development minister Fortune Chasi has conceded that while it is government’s policy to avoid load shedding at critical institutions like hospitals and schools, technically, it has become unavoidable.

Addressing Senate on Thursday, Chasi said it was regrettable that persistent power outages of at least 12 hours a day had hit colleges, boarding schools, hospitals and universities.

“I want to inform the House that the decision to load shed is a very painful one for both Government and our utility.  In terms of policy, we try as much as possible to avoid critical institutions like hospitals, schools and related institutions but I would like the House to understand that we are in a very difficult situation in terms of availability of power,” Chasi said.

Chasi said there is a heavy load on our utility in terms of outstanding payments by consumers to the tune of $1.2 billion.

“I want to take this opportunity to urge Hon. Members here to pay their bills and also to encourage those in their constituencies to do so,” he said.

“This constitutes a very serious drag on the capacity of ZESA to generate power to meet its day to day financial needs but also importantly, it makes it impossible for investors into the power sector to find us as an attractive destination for investment.  So in short, the policy is that we try as much as possible to avoid load shedding of critical institutions but technically, it may not be avoidable in some circumstances but we will also try and look in a case by case basis to see whether there is a possibility of avoiding that a particular situation.”

The current power shortages have affected students at all levels as the load shedding timetable is interfering with their studies.

 Students have lamented over the strain on the load shedding is having on their studies such that they have resorted to using candles and paraffin powered lambs to cope up with assignments.

University of Zimbabwe students who spoke to Zim Morning Post over the weekend said ZESA have to reconsider its current schedule to make room for students to study as it is affecting their performance especially those that are non-residents.

“ZESA  should revisit their load shedding schedule at least ZESA should be there during the night from 7pm till 3am since most of us have to use laptops and phones to type assignments , how do we type assignments when they is no power, ”lamented a student who refused to be named.

 “Network is down these days due to ZESA power cuts we are struggling to access online books due to network failure, ZESA should reconsider their current schedule because we are failing to access things online now, “lamented a group of students.