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BRING ALL PROBLEMS TO ME, NNAJI TELLS POWER STAKEHOLDERS

By NBF News
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All parties involved in the execution of projects to bring about a quick increase in electricity supply have been directed to bring to the knowledge of the minister of power, every problem militating against meeting their respective deadlines.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, gave the directive in an interview with journalists yesterday, on the heels of a visit to a power station under construction at Ihonvbor in Edo State under the auspices of the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP).

The 450Megawatts new power station comprises four units, which will be commissioned this year. 'I paid an unscheduled visit to the facility to see things for myself rather than being satisfied with mere assurances from contractors and other stakeholders,' Nnaji said.

'From the look of things, the switchyard will be ready in May and the transmission infrastructure through which power generated from the NIPP Lot 19 will be evacuated will be ready in June. General Electric, the contracting firm handling the four units, promised that each unit will be commissioned every month from June if it is provided with electricity to complete the job as soon as possible.'

The minister stated that though the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, which is implementing the NIPP, had made a 500KV generator available, he had been assured by the NDPHC Executive Director in charge of operations, Louis Edozien, that another generator of the same capacity would be given this week, to the contractor for the early completion of the Ihonvbor power plant.

On the community issues affecting the pace of the project implementation, Nnaji caused a laughter when he disclosed that shortly after the NDPHC diverted the transmission line to the Ihovnbor station at a considerable cost because of the presence of a shrine, a new shrine emerged overnight on the new route and the villagers 'are demanding a huge amount to relocate it.'

The minister also advised the NDPHC to quickly arrange for hot gas operating at between 50 and 70 degrees centigrade to fire the plant, noting that the General Electric machines on site were not configured to take cold gas.

'Both President Goodluck Jonathan and the people of Nigeria,' he observed, 'are tired of hearing excuses and explanations for inadequate supply, as all they legitimately want is power availability. Every obstacle on the way to the realisation of the electricity plans must be tackled with the seriousness and decisiveness it deserves.'

Nnaji said the present administration regarded electricity as a right of every citizen, which must be respected. Describing power as the fulcrum of modern development, the minister argued that very little socioeconomic progress could be made without the power crisis addressed comprehensively. On the dip in power supply across the country in the last one month, the minister attributed the development to the low water levels in the dams supplying water to the country's three hydropower stations at Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro, and gas shortage.

'It is our tough luck,' he noted, 'that we are experiencing our worst water levels in 10 years because of the poor rainy season last year in neighbouring countries, from which we derive black flood for the hydro plants. The white flood refers to flood derived during the rainy season in Nigeria, which gets to its climax in July of every year, unlike the black flood which gets to its peak in November.'

The minister explained that thermal power plants were built in the past without proper arrangements for either gas pipelines or the molecules.