• November 29, 2022 6:48 pm

Parliament faults DPP for ESCOM maladministration leading to persistent blackouts

Sep 10, 2022

An in depth investigative report which Public Accounts Committee (PAC) submitted in Parliament shows how the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led Government turned ESCOM into cashcow turning the parastatal to lose focus and direction.

Despite the fact that Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi Ltd. (ESCOM) being established by an Act of Parliament as the electrical power supplier in Malawi charged with the responsibility of Generation (Gx), Transmission (Tx), and Distribution (Dx) of electricity to consumers throughout the country, this organization has failed miserably to achieve its mandate and objectives.

The Corporation was also responsible for maintenance of the sector assets and planning for system expansion to meet growing demand for electricity in the country which is over 400 megawatts against available generation capacity of 267MW.

Efforts have been made before to improve performance of this organization but all failed miserably because the then Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) led Government regarded ESCOM as a cash cow.

The 2016 Electricity Amendment Act changed the role of ESCOM from being an electricity generation entity to procurement, transmission and distribution of power but still nothing is working to extent that its line Minister Ibrahim Matola cried in front of cameras during Government face the press at Central Office of Information (COI).

Malawi’s population has one of the lowest rates of access to electricity in the SADC region. Currently, only 10 percent of the population has access to electricity making  Wood fuel (firewood and charcoal) to be the main source of energy for households in the country.

Since 2011, Malawi as a nation has suffered heavy load-shedding which contributed to poor economic performance of the nation, as many industries (both micro
and macro) failed to do business and many new investors feared to invest in the country.

PAC Chair Mark Bottoman says scrutinising and examining the Performance Audit Report, which focused on ensuring that the economy, efficiency and effectiveness with which ESCOM used its resources was not questionable and that it conformed to the set down laws and statutes of the country.

The Committee says there was better use of resources and improved operations and that there was better decision making in reaching policy objectives.

The Committee believes that at the end of the exercise that the House had entrusted to it, it has delivered on the objectives of the meetings. The Committee established that there had been some notable lapses in the way electricity was being distributed in the country.

The Committee’s scrutiny and consideration of the Performance Audit Reports resulted in the following lapses at ESCOM: delays in connection of customers, delays in submitting completed jobs to the next processing level, delays in updating overloaded transformers, failure to timely complete procurement processes and in accordance with consolidated annual procurement plan, and poor performance of individual contractors.

ESCOM has been using inaccurate material quantifications and specifications as well
as inefficient inventory system that lacks proper custody of materials.

Other irregularities at ESCOM which the Parliamentary committee established include: failure to reduce time and frequency of power interruptions and load shedding  delays in clearing faults, failure to check faults log sheets by the supervisors, and failure to monitor distribution lines.

“The Committee, having scrutinised the performance audit report, has made its own observations on the issues highlighted above and generally observed that there was laxity and disregard to the set down procedures that resulted into the shortcomings as reported,” reads the report. The Committee gave  recommendations  which aimed at curbing the observed mismanagements.

“It is the belief of the Committee that this House will seriously consider the recommendations and that, once the Report is adopted, ESCOM and any other government functionaries mentioned herein will seriously implement the said recommendation,” reads the report.

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