Power black-out stretches for two months . . . Vumba tourism sneezes

26 Jan, 2024 - 00:01 0 Views
Power black-out stretches for two months . . . Vumba tourism sneezes Tourism players in Vumba had a power outage on December 1, 2023, and the prolonged black-out was threatening the viability of their businesses

The ManicaPost

 

Liberty Dube
Tourism Correspondent

TOURISM players in one of Eastern Highlands’ prime tourist destinations, Vumba, have decried the seemingly non-commitment by Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) to resolve the power outage in their area.

For over 50 days, tourism players in Vumba have not had electricity supply.

 

They last had power on December 1, 2023, a move which is seriously threatening the viability of their businesses.

Most of the operators are teetering on the blink of collapse if their plight is not urgently addressed.

World class hotels such as Leopard Rock and Forest Hills as well as several bed and breakfast facilities are being affected by the power black-out.

Due to this, the tourism economy in Vumba could take a hit at a time when the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality is pushing for a US$5 billion tourism economy by the year 2025.

Electricity is a key enabler in the country’s economic growth as it is a low hanging fruit characterised by foreign currency earnings, employment creation and community empowerment.

With the continued black-out, revenue flows have drastically dropped and employees in the industry face a bleak future as business owners are now considering scaling down operations.

The hospitality and tourism establishments in Vumba find themselves spending a lot of money to ensure that their guests have a great experience in the Eastern Highlands.

Early this week, ZETDC issued a public notice over the matter saying some power lines were stolen, while some faults were experienced due to the heavy rains that saw 12 poles falling.

According to the statement, power is expected to be back mid next week.

“Areas affected by this fault include Vumba, Burma Valley, Fern Valley and Zimunya. The utility wishes to update the public the extent of the fault as follows, 5km of 11kv line feeding the said area was stolen. The area experienced numerous faults caused by heavy rains and 12 poles fell down and need to be replaced.

“There have been numerous efforts to resolve the issue. While we had initiated our normal procurement process and were ready to restore supplies, there was another case of vandalism of a transformer in Vumba, which led to the arrest of two men from Odzi. They are now appearing before the criminal courts.

“Accordingly, as at the end of last week, the utility had managed to source the critical materials to re-power the affected areas. We have initiated the commencement of the work and a continuous wayleave clearance to help reduce damages due to faults, and customers are advised to expect restoration of service by mid next week,” reads part of the statement.

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) president, Mr Brian Nyakutombwa said the obtaining situation is unacceptable.

“It is very bad for business. It is a very big inconvenience for business as conveniences that come with electricity are gone. Power is a basic commodity. It is actually a necessity. Imagine running generators all day and night! National utility providers should change their attitude and should not hold businesses to ransom,” said Mr Nyakutombwa.

Forest Hills Hotel director, Mrs Margaret Makadzange said: “It has been a terrible experience. We have had no power since late last year and it is affecting everything. It is affecting business on all fronts, from security to the guests. We are very disgruntled.

“We actually spent the whole festive season without electricity. Apart from that, we have a very poor gravel road leading to Forest Hills, Vumba Botanical Gardens and Chinamata Falls.

“As if that is not enough, we have no telephone network, neither do we have the internet. How can you promote tourism under such circumstances? Now we gone for 50 days with no electricity.”

Tourism and Hospitality analyst, Mr Lloyd Makonya said faced with such challenges, it is time for tourism players to consider alternative and sustainable sources of energy such as solar, hydro and wind energy.

“Renewable energy technologies have gained significant attention as a means to achieve energy self-sufficiency in the tourism sector.

‘‘The utilisation of renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic systems, wind turbines, and biomass energy, offer energy independence, sustainability and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional energy sources.

“The greatest challenge for most players will be the set-up costs, a predicament which the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe should lobby Government for support policies and infrastructure to help sustain tourism businesses and improve the energy situation.

“In the long term, the benefits are the reduction of over-reliance on traditional energy sources, lower emissions, minimal environmental impact, and generation of long-term cost savings,” said Mr Makonya.

According to a posting on the Zimabwe Tourism Authority’s website, some facilities across the country have taken up sustainable ways to power their facilities.

Pioneers Camp, an eco-tented camp located in Zambezi National Park along the banks of Zambezi River has gone off-grid using solar for water and lighting, and gas for cooking.

 

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