Blackouts are here to stay

(There is commotion in the courtroom as judge Mbadwa enters the courtroom that is in semi-darkness due to power outage. The judge has been asked to read again his determination on whether Escom is right to blame everything on the weatherman)

Court Clerk: All rise! His Lordship Mbadwa’s court is now in session!

Judge Mbadwa: This court will hear a resubmission of an application from Disgruntled Consumers, who initially wanted the tribunal to rule that the Electricity supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), be changed to Hydro-Electricity Supply Commission of Malawi (Hescom).   The consumers argued that Escom had to change its name to reflect the reasons it always give for failing to provide people with power all day. But the disgruntled consumers, however, noted that the unbundling of the company to Electricity Generation Company (Egenco) and Escom, the supplying entity, made their application a little bit weak. Mr Jonah Kapita can you make your resubmission?

Kapita:  My Lord, we had to include Egenco in our application for a change of name because we understand the unbundling process left the mandate of generating power to it. But Escom is still supplying or is still failing to supply us with power and for this reason, it cannot go scot free. In short, my Lord what we want as Disgruntled Consumers is that these two organisations be disbanded for their propensity to peddle lies whenever they fail in their duties. Only few years ago power outages were history; what has changed now? My Lord, even with the coming in of Egenco, the excuses remain the same.

Either they talk about low water levels in the lake or piles of trash blocking the turbines. But why should Egenco peddle Escom’s excuses when we know they are a different company? It is our argument that the two companies only changed in name but their modus operandi remains annoyingly ancient. More reasons for them to embrace new names suggested by us consumers.

We understand that water is becoming a scarce commodity for these companies and that the lake is drying and the water table is going down is common knowledge, but that is no excuse.

But the citizens add that Egenco should now become Hydro-Electricity Generation Company (Hegenco). The existence of these companies hinge on availability of water; hence, Hydro should form part of their names. The citizens argue that the name will allow all excuses Hegenco is spewing when it is failing to generate power to the people of Malawi. It would make sense for Hegenco to say they can’t generate power because they are low levels of water in the Shire or to say their turbines have been over-flooded with trash due to heavy rainfall upstream.

As Hegenco, so argue the citizens, the company would be operating only in seasons where there is no too much water or too little water to generate electricity. The people want the company to only open a season of generating electricity where supply will be uninterrupted and close power generation, like tobacco market seasons, to usher in a period of blackouts instead of having half-a year of blackouts spread out in a year.

Unless they stop making excuses which Escom were making, the consumers will also not allow Egenco to operate under a new mandate because nothing has really changed. We will not even allow them to venture into other forms of power such as coal or solar or fuel run generators as they claimed because we believe they will only transfer their inefficiencies to those sectors. By the way hasn’t a year gone since they raised our hopes about buying generators to be installed in the country’s major cities? Why should we believe them now? Thank you My Lord.

Mbadwa: My judgement; I agree with the citizens’ observation that Egenco and Escom’s  inexact excuses are not making any sense because their job is to generate and supply power to the Malawi population not contingent on the availability of water or its absence. We do not care how they will do that; all we want is that it they should fulfill their mandate. I hereby grant the citizens their wish that the name of the institutions change to Hescom and Hegenco. The entities have three weeks to prove they can retain the present status. Case closed.

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