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MINISTERS SHOCKED AS CHINESE FIRM FRUSTRATES POWER PLANT

By NBF News
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The workers at the multi-billion naira Olorunsogo Power Plant phase 1 have revealed that SEPCO Electric Power Construction Corporation, the Chinese firm that built it has been frustrating the smooth operations of the eight gas turbines of the power project.

This was the shocking revelation during a working visit of the Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji and Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, on behalf of the Presidential Steering Committee, headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

As a result, the plant, which was built to generate 335 megawatts presently generates about 80 megawatts.

The tour of power projects is to ensure anything hindering the Nigeria Independent Power Projects as well as the Federal Government Power Plants from the realisation of 5000 megawatts by the end of the year is fixed.

Aside not having operating manual in English to assist the Nigerian workers understand the operations of the machines at the power plant, they have also deliberately refused to build their capacity as they send out the workers during repairs or claim to be on break each time the workers insist on being put through.

The ministers were told that out of the eight gas turbines, only two were functioning since the plant was commissioned over five years ago due to poor maintenance, non availability of spare parts, lack of technical competence as well as the non availability of operating manuals in English. More shocking for the ministers was that the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the plant, Mr Mohammed Almu and his team were unable to provide answers to the queries concerning the problems bedeviling the plants, neither could they come up with agreed funds needed to fix the broken turbines.

Almu, however, admitted the frustrations they had been going through in the hands of the Chinese.

Almu said: 'On the issue of spare parts, at the time of handing over of this project, they (Chinese) supposed to give us two years running spare parts but what they gave us were just small spare parts, that is why we are having serious problem. And anytime we contact tham, they will promise to bring the parts and up till now, they have not given us any. And any time we have a problem and we want to go with them, they will refuse to go with us and abandon the place.'

Though he said both Nigerians and the Chinese were still presently working on the power plant together, he noted that 'at any time we want to meet minds together, they will refuse. And some of them don't even understand English, so its difficult,' adding that 'we don't have operating manuals in English.'

Both Nnaji and Maku, who could not hide their shock and disappointment, however, said Federal Government would look into the terms of agreement of the project between the Chinese and Nigeria to know the true status before taking the necessary actions.

Nnaji expressed great displeasure over the level of inco┬║mpetent technical know how of the staff of the power plant, saying, 'it is very disappointing that coming from Egbin Station, where we were well briefed, we got here , scratching for information, I don't like it and we will do something about that because what we want is ability to ensure that things keep on going. It requires resourcefulness to get things done.

How can we be in a situation where if you total the amount of money needed here it's nothing in comparison with just one project the people in Egbin solved . It is a lot more than all of this put together. So, for sure,we are going to do something to solve these problems but on the technical side, we have to do something. That is why visiting these plants is very important.

'For sure,we are going to do something about it to solve these problems . That is why visiting these plants is very important,' the power minister said. Explaining part of the terms of agreement, the minister said: 'They (Chinese) actually built this plant on loans. They provided about 65 percent of the funds and Federal Government provided the balance to build this plant. So, you know what loan means, you'll have to pay.

'So, the consideration is whether the company that built this plant should simply take over, since they have the documents and they haven't handed the documents and the documents are not written in English. So, definitely we are going to resolve this problem in a way that it will be to the benefit of Nigerians.'

Also reacting said, 'We are on a fact-finding tour to find out what the problems are, what are the prospects and what is the state of progress in all our power plants. You (Power Minister) have said it that this plant is ready and that there are small technical problems that shouldn't obstruct production. You are on top of the situation and you are providing the leadership. And as we go back, I am sure we will find solutions, if they are technical or financial, we will apply them and if they are managerial, definitely that would be applied.'