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Maputo, 13 Feb
(AIM) – Mozambique’s publicly owned electricity company, EDM,
on Wednesday
said it has completed the bulk of the work required to restore
Maputo’s power
supply to normal, after the Saturday morning explosion that
distribution control panels at the SONEFE sub-station.

For three and a
half days the city suffered lengthy power cuts, but the
power supply was
stabilized as from late Tuesday morning.

Speaking at a Maputo press
conference on Wednesday, the chairperson of the
EDM board, Augusto de Sousa
Fernando, said work on the alternative
connections required to bypass SONEFE
was completed on Tuesday morning, thus
guaranteeing electricity to downtown
Maputo, the part of the city worst hit
by the blackouts

“The situation
has been minimised as from Tuesday”, said Fernando. “There is
still some work
that needs to be done to normalize the situation”. But this
remaining work,
he added, should not affect the quality of the power supply.

“Since it’s
a provisional solution, there could be some problems”, he
admitted, “but not
on the scale of the weekend blackouts”.

There are two main substations
that supply Maputo city with its electricity
– one in the neighbouring city
of Matola, and one in Infulene (technically
also in Matola, but near the
boundary between the two cities).

The Matola sub-station normally
supplies power to the lower part of Maputo,
while the Infulene station
supplies the upper part of the city. The two
lines were interconnected by
SONEFE – so that if one sub-station failed, the
other could take up its

But the explosion at the SONEFE gas-fired station disrupted this
system, and
ended the interconnection between Matola and Infulene. EDM’s
repair work
since Saturday has consisted in bypassing SONEFE – but it could
not restore
the interconnection between the two sub-stations.

Hence if
anything goes wrong at Matola, EDM will not be able to switch the
that depend on this sub-station over to power from Infulene and
vice versa.
The redundancy that was previously built into the system has
ceased to

But Fernando did not regard this as a major problem. “There is a
risk”, he
said, “but it’s difficult to assess, because the source in Matola
reliable and has the great advantage of possessing two transformers
three lines”.

There had never been any serious breakdowns at the
Matola sub-station. “I
can’t say the risk is zero”, said Fernando. “Like
other cities, such as
Xai-Xai or Inhambane, which depend on a single source,
the low part of
Maputo now depends on a single source and not on

Meanwhile technicians from the German company ABB, which supplied
equipment that exploded on Saturday, are due to fly out from Germany
Thursday, to investigate the causes of the explosion.

EDM says it
cannot yet put a precise figure on the damage caused by the
explosion – but a
preliminary assessment is that replacing the damaged
control panels could
cost between five and six million dollars, and the work
could take 12

EDM will have to pay for the new equipment, since the damaged
installed in 2007, were only guaranteed for a year. However,
assured the reporters that EDM is insured.

As for
compensating EDM clients for losses caused by the blackout, Fernando
pointed out that the explosion was “an unforeseeable incident and it was not

However, EDM admits the possible of examining
claims from consumers on a
case by case basis. Among the losses reported are
the cases of shops where
fresh produce, such as meat and fish, rotted because
there was no power to
run the refrigeration.
Mm/pf (613)

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