Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) has sent on an indefinite suspension nine senior employees from the Southern Region following last Friday’s blackout that occurred during a graduation ceremony at Chancellor College (Chanco) in Zomba.
The power outage, which lasted for about eight minutes, happened while President Peter Mutharika was addressing the congregation. He was forced to momentarily stop reading his speech.
Yesterday, both Escom board chairperson Thom Mpinganjira and chief executive Allexon Chiwaya referred Weekend Nation to the company’s public relations manager Innocent Chitosi, who asked for a questionnaire which he did not respond to as went to print.
But a source privy to the decision confirmed that the utility body suspended the nine for alleged “negligence” and allowing a power failure mid-way the President’s speech at the Great Hall.
Weekend Nation has established that those suspended are regional manager for the South, senior controlling engineer for the region, Zomba district engineer Kelvin Chatonda and control engineer for Mangochi. The other four are supervisors.
When contacted, Chatonda said he had been advised not to say anything about the matter.
“I can neither confirm nor deny anything, ask Escom management to explain to you,” said Chatonda.
On July 8 this year, Malawians endured a national power outage that lasted for over an hour negatively affecting key social and economic sectors including hospitals, water supply, telecommunications and the manufacturing industry.
The country has the capacity to generate 439 megawatts (MW) but only generates less than 300 MW putting an access rate at 10.8 percent of the country’s total population.
However, for years, both Escom and Electricity Generation Company
(Egenco) have been giving Malawians made-up optimism of improved power generation and supply but Malawians continue experiencing prolonged load shedding periods.
Currently, Escom is effecting rationing lasting up to six hours a day for both domestic and industry customers due to insufficient power the company is getting from Egenco.
Business operators continue to lose revenue and incurring huge operating costs due to extended power outages while few resort to generators as an alternative.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) last month told The Nation electricity has continued to be one of the most problematic factors for doing business in the country.