Irate UNZA students burn Benz in power outage riot

UNZA mourns Michael Sata, ‘King Cobra’ Oct 29th 2014 in Pictures
UNZA mourns Michael Sata, ‘King Cobra’ Oct 29th 2014 in Pictures

UNIVERSITY of Zambia students on Thursday night rioted following a power outage that affected eight out of the 10 provinces, caused by an electric fault at Kariba North Bank and Kafue Gorge power stations.

Meanwhile, Konkola Copper Mines says the power outage rendered its Nchanga smelter in Chingola inactive for up to 16 hours.

According to energy minister Dora Siliya, the interruption of power supply affected Central, Muchinga, Luapula, North-Western, Northern, Eastern, Lusaka and Copperbelt provinces.

Southern and Western provinces, however, had normal supply as they rely on the Victoria Falls power station.

But according to Lusaka Province police commissioner Charity Katanga, UNZA students got incensed with the outage and took to the road where they burnt to ashes a Mercedes-Benz C180.

“After the blackout at past 22:00 hours, students in anger decided to protest and started pelting stones at motor vehicles which were passing. During that time, there was a member of the public who was passing around the same place. His motor vehicle was hit and when he saw that there were a lot of students, in panic, he hit into a pavement and one student threw fire into the vehicle and that’s how it got burnt to ashes,” said Katanga in an interview yesterday.

“The vehicle, which was stoned is a Benz C180, registration number BAA 2165 which was being driven by Percy Siame of plot 775 Ibex Hill. After seeing the situation, he ran away and the vehicle was completely gutted. Fire brigade then moved in and quick action restored order. No student was arrested.”

And Siliya revealed that an inter-connect between Zambia and Zimbabwe collapsed when importing off-peak power, making the whole system trip.

“[The] latest is that the interconnect between Zambia and Zimbabwe collapsed when importing off-peak power, thereby tripping our whole system. This has disrupted power supply to all provinces, except Southern and Western provinces,” said Siliya, who was at the time attending the overnight parliamentary debate on the constitution amendment bill 2015.

And in a press statement issued yesterday by KCM public relations manager Shapi Shachinda, the power blackout negatively affected Konkola Copper Mines’ operations and production.

“Following the power outage, KCM was able to bring on line 16MW of power using its own emergency diesel generator set at Konkola mine supported by another 40MW in emergency power supplied by the CEC from its gas turbines. This power allowed KCM to continue to pump water and withdraw its employees in a planned and disciplined manner. All employees at both the Nchanga and Konkola underground mines were withdrawn without injury or incident,” stated Shachinda.

“However, around 04:30 hours on Friday, KCM lost the emergency power supply after the national power system tripped as attempts were being made to re-connect the company to the national grid. Full supply of power was finally restored to KCM at about 09:40 hours today (yesterday). Production was suspended during the power outage. Consequently, it will take KCM about 16 hours to restart operations at its Nchanga smelter in Chingola. The company will also suffer some slight loss of production at Konkola while pumping out of water continues from the deeper sections of the mine.”