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All not well at Morupule A

SHARE   |   Monday, 14 November 2016   |   By Phillimon Mmeso
All not well at Morupule A

The multi-billion tender to refurbish Morupule A power plant and deliver it on time is said to be in limbo as the contracting company is said to be facing delivery and employee challenges. The South Korean company Doosan Heavy Industries was hand-picked for the tender- estimated at $204 million (P2.5 billion) – to refurbish the mothballed Morupule A power plant. Doosan Heavy Industries has now engaged Murray and Roberts to do the mechanical works which include construction of the plant. The refurbishment of the plant, which includes replacing and repairing key parts, such as turbines and boilers in the Morupule A power plant was supposed to be completed in December 2017 but insider sources have revealed that it is impossible.  “The project just like Morupule B is going to have cost overruns as it is out of scope and will probably be completed in 2019,” said the source. At the moment the project, which is supposed to be at 43%, is behind schedule as it stands at 9%.

 “We were supposed to have delivered unit 1 by beginning on October but is still far from being handed,” said a source at the plant, adding that unit one will be handed in July next year. On Friday morning, work is said to have come to a halt when 53 Thai nationals who are working at the plant downed tools citing poor working conditions and late payment. Most of the Thai nationals are said to be working without working permits. On the same day (Friday) two South African nationals – one working as quality control officer and another as Safety officer – were arrested by Immigration officers as they were found to be working without work permits. Efforts to get comment from Project Manager Udo Straadndorf were fruitless as his mobile phone was off. The refurbishment of Morupule A, which was closed in 2012, is being done to restore the plant to a "dependable capacity" following a long period of poor performance by repairing at least three of its four 33-megawatt (MW) units.

Previously Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) opted not to refurbish the plant reasoning that it was expensive and preferred to focus their finances on the Morupule B Phase I project which was expected to yield 600 MW. At the height of the national power demand in 2010, the utility had a change of heart and flighted advertisements for refurbishing Morupule A Power Station. Briefing parliament early this year the then Minister of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources Kitso Mokaila said that power plant has a total capacity of 132 megawatts comprising four generators producing 33 megawatts. Under the contract, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction will replace and repair turbines and boilers in the Morupule A power plant.