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THAT the 300 megawatts Maamba Collieries Limited (MCL) plant has resumed operating at full capacity and now supplying Zesco with the contracted power, is comforting news to various players in the economy and individual households.

With both 150 MW power units at Maamba Collieries now running at their full capacity, it is expected that the problem of load-shedding which has since seriously affected both small and big businesses, will greatly be reduced.

It is undisputed that since load-shedding was instituted last year, production across various sectors of the economy has been greatly affected.

Small businesses such as barbershops, hair salons and retail shops, welding entities among others, have been struggling to operate with some understandably even closing down in areas where load management was prolonged.

Unfortunately, these small shops and other businesses are the major sources of income for many Zambians, and not having power for long periods entailed no money for their survival.

Complaints by shop and butchery owners of their goods, such as meat, dairy products and other goods going bad because of prolonged blackouts have become a disheartening common phenomenon.

In other words, not only have businesses been incurring losses through loss of stock in fridges they have been struggling to make money because of erratic power supply.

However, it is our hope that with an additional 300 megawatts from MCL now being supplied to Zesco, the power deficit will be reduced and such losses will be a thing of the past.

At least livestock farmers too and others who rely on electricity for production can now breathe a sigh of relief.

Power is among the key drivers of the economy and it is only prudent the State in cooperation with other stakeholders continue to seek more eco-friendly ways of generating electricity such as MCL in view of climate change.

MCL chief executive officer Venkat Shankar yesterday said the modern, eco-friendly coal-fired power plant, the first of its kind in Zambia, was complex, and due to the nature of its operations, needed periodic robust maintenance.

Mr. Shankar said specialised technical support to the plant came at high cost and could not be ignored if production was to be assured.

It is worth noting that for now, MCL was not operating below the expected capacity because of technical hitches such as leaking pipes which needed replacing, among others.

Mr Shankar’s message is loud and clear, periodic robust maintenance should be observed if the plant has to be kept in production.

This entails that whatever money is accrued to the company for supplying power to Zesco for example is paid promptly to ensure MCL continues operating smoothly at full capacity to reduce the power deficit. 

We therefore applaud the government for releasing money to settle debts Zesco owed the company to enable it carry out maintenance works at the plant to bring it to full capacity.

With Kafue Gorge Lower power which Zesco is working on expected to be commissioned mid this year, Zambians expect to bid farewell to load-shedding and for the situation to completely return to normal

For now, the fact that MCL has started supplying power to Zesco at full capacity is a big step towards ending load-shedding.

It also brings hope to the many Zambians that with guaranteed power, industrial and agricultural production would pick up and ensure steady economic growth.

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