THE decision by Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) to restrict power supply to KCM has far reaching repercussions on the mining industry, says Forum for Democracy and Development (FDD) Copperbelt chairman Yotam Mtayachalo.
Mr Mtayachalo said the warning by government to the two firms that they should not create an impasse over the debt KCM owes CEC was timely.
He observed that mining was the life blood of the Zambian economy and that the action by CEC to restrict power to KCM had the potential to undermine the country’s economy because KCM might fail to meet its copper production benchmarks.
He urged Energy and Mines Minister Yamfwa Mukanga to take a keen interest in the matter for the good of the nation.
“I have information from reliable sources within ZESCO, that CEC equally owes the power utility company a lot of money in unpaid electricity bills but ZESCO has not taken radical decision against it.
“CEC should also realise that much as KCM has financial obligations to meet with them, CEC should have taken into account the financial challenges KCM has been facing,” Mr Mtayachalo said.
He said taking radical decisions like power restrictions could lead to massive job losses at KCM and other support companies which depended on KCM such as suppliers and contractors.
The opposition leader said the move by CEC was also dangerous as it threatened the safety of workers underground as the shutting of power was done without consideration.
Mr Mtayachalo has since challenged government to also consider taking a bold decision to take over CEC and integrate it into ZESCO.
He said with such a move ZESCO would have the financial capacity and to reduce electricity tariffs which were already beyond the reach of many Zambians under the PF administration shall reduce drastically.
He said the current government should take a leaf from what late president Levy Mwanawasa’s administration did in 2005 when it integrated Kariba North Bank (KNBC) into ZESCO to reduce on overhead costs.Mr Mtayachalo said there was need to dismantle all elements that were causing confusion for the mining firm as they were up to no good.
He said it was important that government as soon as possible came up with measures to ensure that the CEC did not shut power at the mining company.