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Maputo, 12 Feb (AIM) – Maputo
suffered its fourth day of lengthy power cuts
on Tuesday, following the
explosion on Saturday morning at the gas-fired
sub-station that controlled
distribution of electricity throughout southern

all the efforts by staff of the electricity company, EDM, including
on the services of technicians from Germany, the county where the
damaged equipment was manufactured, large parts of the city remained without
for much of Monday, and were hit by another power cut on

The commercial areas in downtown Maputo and
inner-city neighbourhoods such
as Alto Mae were worst hit. Most small
shopkeepers have no generators, and
so were unable to operate their
refrigerators and freezers. As a result
fresh produce, such as fish and meat,
was at risk of rotting in the summer

“Since Saturday I’ve been
without power and this is causing me losses”,
Marcos Alberto, the owner of an
Alto Mae butchers shop told the independent
television station STV. “We have
a lot of meat that has already changed
colour, which is a sure sign that it
is rotting”.

Those traders who can afford it are thinking of hiring
generators and
freezers in order to minimize their losses.

Even major
supermarkets, such as the Maputo branch of the South African
Shoprite chain,
could not cope with the situation. Shoprite has just one
generator, which is
not enough to keep all its fresh produce cold, and
sources at the supermarket
admitted that some of its meat had already

Due to the
feeble lighting inside the supermarket, some clients attempted to
produce. Three of them were arrested by Shoprite security and handed
over to
the police.

Hotels and restaurants also had to throw away considerable
amounts of food,
notably fish and shellfish, which they could not conserve.
The lack of
electricity also led to a sharp fall in the number of clients
visiting the

Banks were also affected. “We have no
communications”, a bank worker at a
nearby branch of the country’s main bank,
the Millennium-BIM, told AIM on
Tuesday. Without electricity, ATMs cannot
function and so long queues built
up outside those ATMs at bank branches with

The lack electricity led to traffic chaos, since the central
Maputo traffic
lights were not working. The main thoroughfare in downtown
Maputo, 25
September Avenue, was a scene of anarchy, with motorists trying to
their way through a tangle of vehicles, with nobody having any clear
of way.

Throughout the afternoon the chaos simply worsened, and
the traffic police
only intervened to impose order at about 17.00. The result
of the blackout
plus police inertia was that a journey which might normally
take half an
hour, now took two hours or longer.

The Saturday
explosion killed one EDM worker, who has been named as Isac
Vicente Antonio,
and damaged three control panels at the SONEFE sub-station.
This sub-station
handled about 400 megawatts, and supplied all of the modern
parts of Maputo
with their power.

EDM is routing the power through an alternative line
via a sub-station at
Infulene in the neighbouring city of Matola, bypassing
the damaged SONEFE
sub-station. But EDM admits that Infulene can only handle
60 per cent of the
load handled by SONEFE.

Load shedding is thus
likely to continue until EDM manages to replace the
equipment that exploded.
A team from the German manufacturer will assess the
causes of the explosion,
before repairing the damage.
Pf/ (580)

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