'WHY NIGERIA MAY NOT GENERATE 5,000 MEGAWATTS BEFORE DECEMBER'
Project Manager of SEPCO III, Mr. Li Xianlai has said there must be uninterrupted supply of gas to major power plants across the country to realise government's desire to up the nation's electricity generation capacity to 5,000 megawatts by December.
The project manager of the Chinese Engineering firm that constructed and still maintaining the Olorunsogo – Papalanto Power Plant, the Federal Government project in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State said shortage of gas to the plants constitute great hindrance to adequate functioning of the Phase I of the project.
The company spoke against the backdrops of the allegations by the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Power Plant Phase I, Mr. Mohammed Almu that the Chinese company was frustrating the efforts of the Federal Government.
During the recent visit of the Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji and his Information counterpart, Mr. Labaran Maku, Almu accused the Chinese company of frustrating the smooth operations of the power project.
But in an interview with journalists on Monday, Xianlai denied the allegations, adding that the company had kept its own side of the contract on the smooth operations of the eight gas turbines of the Phase I of the power project.
Speaking on why the plant, which was built to generate 335 megawatts, but currently generates about 80 megawatts, the project manager lamented lack of technical know -how on the part of PHCN staff deployed to the plant.
His words: 'For us as a responsible corporate entity, we have been doing our best to improve power generation in the country.
'When the power plant was being constructed, some staff of PHCN were sent to China for training on how to operate the plant but to our surprise, after the training and handing over, the staff trained in China were not sent here (to the plant).
He adds: ' They brought people that were not trained and lack experience, so in the process of work, they caused damage on most of the turbines there when they attempted to repair them. They lack the technical know how.'
Asked why the turbine was not generating enough electricity as Expected, the manager said: 'There is shortage of gas. That has
been the major problem the plant has been facing since it was handed over by SEPCO III in 2009 to the PCHN.
'We need gas, it is not our fault. Why will anybody or PHCN blame us for the plant not functioning when it is not in our place to supply
gas? Six units can supply more than 80 megawatts. And if they fix the machines units, it will still not produce the required megawatts if
they lack gas to work. While disclosing that the warranty period was one year, he stated: 'There is provisional running period of one year and for over three years, the plant is still running and we are the one running it based on our own cost. We have not received money from federal government of Nigeria. The agreement was for three years and we still didn't mind
because we have issue with them''. ''We are still running the plant at our own cost because we want to maintain a good relationship with the Nigerian government. We are still expecting the government to refund us the sum of 2million
Dollars. He also stated that attempts by the federal government to privatize the Phase I of the plants is already causing apprehension for members of staff of the plant. ''What we believe is that the Nigerian government's attempt at trying to privatize the power sector is why the union within PHCN is trying to paint SEPCO black whenever it has opportunity of talking to the press, believing that we want to snatch their daily bread from them''. According to him, ''Yes, many Nigerians believe that if the power sector is privatized, power supply will stabilize but unfortunately, the PHCN union don't want that. I don't know what they are benefitting there. They believe if Nigerian government says they should go, they will not be paid their dues''. On the allegations that Operating Manual for the plants were written only in Chinese language, he said:'' It is a lie, they are just calling dog bad name, just to hand it. There is also the English
version'', he concluded.