Intratrek Zimbabwe has returned to the Gwanda solar power plant site after the High Court in June ordered ZESA subsidiary, the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), to work with the renewable energy company to see the 100-megawatt project to fruition.
Intratrek, which is working with Chinese technical partner Chink Electrical, has in recent weeks constructed an access road, built an office block, cleared and fenced-off 260 hectares at the construction site. The Gwanda solar project has for long been seen as the poster-child of the country's failed investment in new power generation.
ZPC sought to cancel the US$172 million contract accusing Intratrek of breaching their agreement, but the energy firm owned by businessman Wicknell Chivayo, has won two High Court orders, the latest in June.
The government is anxious to have energy projects come onstream to bridge an energy shortfall of some 700 megawatts occasioned by low water levels at the main hydro power station at Kariba, and the unreliable coal-fired power plants.
Justice Tawanda Chitapi granted a specific performance order sought by Intratrek, ruling: "The public wants electricity for use at home and in industries. The public is not interested in bickering for self-interest and egos on the part of State actors and their contractors."
If ZPC wished to cancel the contract, the judge said, it had to pay Intratrek US$25 million dollars in damages.
"It has already been observed that the subject matter of the contract is of national importance. It is of public interest. The public wants electricity for use at home and in industries. The public is not interested in bickering for self-interest and egos on the part of State actors and their contractors," Justice Chitapi said. Intratrek has already received US$5.6 million of US$7.7 million for pre-commencement works.
ZPC has a pending appeal at the Supreme Court whose motive Justice Chitapi described as "improper."
"It is disgraceful that national projects are stalled by contracting parties having merry dances in boardrooms instead of project sites and seeing the project to fruition," the judge said.
Chivayo, who visited the Gwanda site this week, told ZimLive he was moving ahead to implement the project in four phases of 25 megawatts each.
"The power to be generated is not for use by Intratrek or ZPC alone, but for the whole nation," he said.
"The judgement of the High Court allowed execution pending appeal. Importantly, the judge said the parties must not merry-dance in boardrooms and courtrooms but must go and successfully implement the project for the benefit of Zimbabwe. That's what Intratrek is doing. Yes