Harare – As the country faces its worst power cuts in 3 years which are negatively impacting productivity and adding to the mounting public anger against the government, industry has now been forced to adjust working hours to make up for the hours lost during blackouts.
The country last experienced such serious blackouts in 2016 following a devastating drought.
An employee at a local manufacturing company, Nash Paints who spoke to Equity Axis on condition of anonymity said the company is now opting to night shifts effective 3rd of July 2019 to cover for production hours lost during the day.
The employee said load shedding schedule usually starts at 6 am till the evening, meaning they will be having no electricity during the normal working hours between 7:30 am to 4:30 pm.
Nash Paints located in the industrial hub Granite side outside the capital, mirrors the challenge most other manufacturing companies are likely facing in that industrial area and the country as a whole.
Art Corporation which manufactures and distribute products in three key categories paper products, stationery and batteries in its financial report for the half year ended 31 March 2019, said volumes at its paper mill were 4% lower as a result of reduced plant availability owing to intermittent power supply.
Likewise, Willdale Limited which manufactures and markets a range of clay brick products noted in its half year results ended 31 March 2019 that the second half of the financial year is facing low utilisation due to the frequent power cuts.
“Efficiency levels in the second half will be dependent on the stable availability of electricity, diesel fuel and labour, all of which are crucial for production factors,” the Company said in a statement accompanying the financials.
Government has attributed the ongoing blackouts to lower dam levels at Kariba dam while lower electricity imports have also taken a toll on the country’s electricity supply needs.
Recently, the government paid up US$10 million to South Africa’s power utility Eskom reducing the level of debt owed to Eskom to US$23 million, while a further US$35 million is owed to Mozambique’s power distributor.
The disruptive blackouts have also exposed the low quality of infrastructure at most of the country’s power generation plants where most of the equipment was built and installed during the colonial era.
Meanwhile, the government is encouraging substitution away from grid electricity through the establishment of independent power generation plants as part of long term measures to ensure adequate power supply across the country.
Equity Axis News
Raynold Mhotseka is a Journalism and Media Studies student at the University of Zimbabwe. He serves as a news writer at financial research firm, Equity Axis where he is currently on attachment.