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Hot spell forces firms to work night shifts

INDUSTRIAL manufacturing processes are being threatened by the high temperatures being recorded across the country, which affect the cooling systems for some critical machinery used by companies while unstable water supplies in Bulawayo have worsened the situation, captains of industry have said.

According to the Meteorological Services Department, the country continues to record higher temperatures, especially in low-lying areas where maximum temperatures have clocked between 38 and 40 degrees Celsius.

Traditionally high temperatures in areas such as Binga and Hwange, which are considered to be extremely hot, record temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius, but such temperatures are being recorded in Bulawayo, which hardly exceeded 34 degrees Celsius.

Environmental experts have linked the soaring temperatures to climate change, which is linked to harmful global industrial emissions that result in the greenhouse effect.

As a result of the prevailing high temperatures, captains of industry are consolidating data on the impact of heat across sectors.

Due to El Nino weather conditions, the country has also suffered a prolonged dry spell, which has frustrated the summer cropping season.

Humans are experiencing the adverse effects of high temperatures with medical experts calling on the public to stay hydrated to avoid illnesses including heat stroke.

Livestock farmers in Matabeleland region have started losing their animals, prompting the Government and its partners to roll out measures to save the herd and support producers.

The impact of climate change induced weather changes is said to be cutting across sectors with the industry also affected.

“Some industry and factory equipment was not designed to operate at these ultra-high temperatures,” United Refineries Limited chief executive, Mr Busisa Moyo, signalled in a post on X, saying the impact of climate change has not been seriously discussed at an industrial level.

“Recalibration, redesign and re-engineering costs of industrial processes have not been researched and tabled much. Opportunities for green refrigeration and cooling.”

His sentiments were buttressed by Association for Business Zimbabwe (ABUZ) chief executive, Mr Victor Nyoni, who said the high temperatures were driving up the cost of production.

“I was talking to one manufacturer this morning and he was saying the high temperatures were affecting their operating cooling systems that run with the machine.

“He says they have had to place fans in the production room because the temperatures are too high. The machines are heating to the point of malfunctioning,” said Mr Nyoni.

“So, from a technical point of view, the guys who are doing engineering will tell you that to operate efficiently the machinery has to operate at certain levels of temperatures, and to maintain those temperatures comes at a cost.”

Mr Nyoni said in some instances, industrialists have to stop production to cool down the machines.

He said some companies are also even considering night operations in a bid to evade the high temperatures.

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