Shocking revelations of the state of the power sector and the theft of equipment imported by the federal government to boost electricity supply have come from the management of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
One of the baffling news is the disappearance of two containers of electricity transmission equipment belonging to the TCN from the ports. Although the third container was found empty, the content was confirmed looted by the company.
TCN managing director/chief executive officer, Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed, who disclosed this in Abuja on Wednesday night, was, however, silent on the ports the equipment were stolen.
Mohammed said that as last week, TCN had recovered 775 stranded containers from 800 units abandoned for over 10 years at the ports.
He told journalists in Abuja that the company was set to raise transmission wheeling capacity to 10,000 megawatts (MW) before the year ends, adding that TCN was working on seven critical lines across the country to meet the target.
According to him, as at December 2018, TCN achieved an 8,100MW wheeling capacity, adding that it plans to step this up by the end of 2019, as it was procuring quad conductor, a high capacity conductor that can carry more bulk power capacity on the same transmission line.
Mohammed said: “The conductors which we have procured are lighter than the current conductors and can carry two and a half times more power. Half of these conductors are arriving Nigeria on July 27.”
The TCN boss listed the seven critical lines to be upgraded as Onitsha-Awka-Oji River line; the Ikeja West-Alimosho-Ogba-Ota line; and the Alimosho-Alausa line. The rest are the Kaduna-Zaria-Funtua-Gusau line; Birnin Kebbi-Sokoto; Aba-Itu, and Kumbotso-DanAgundi 132kV transmission line.
“By doing that, we are going to recover between 2,000 and 3,000MW which means the grid will shift from 8,100MW to at least 10,000MW,” he said.
Mohammed further explained that the TCN was executing some critical projects with the $1.661 billion multilateral donor funding it had secured.
Responding to questions by journalists, he stressed the need for the Distribution Companies (DisCos) to start investing in their networks.
He said: “We had a problem in Benin and Apo; these are some difficulties we have passed through, but the journey for stable grid is on track. Everything we are doing on the grid will amount to nothing except we have some investment on the side of distribution.”
Mohammed said that despite the massive investment that the power sector had recorded from the transmission end, the distribution companies were yet to match it with a proportional upgrade of their equipment.
He hinted that President Muhammadu Buhari was in support of the recapitalisation of the DisCos.
In a swift reaction to the alleged missing containers, the general manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Adam Jato, said that he needed to know when the containers were brought into the country because the TCN had brought in containers that were abandoned for over 16 years at the seaports.
Jato added that he also needs to know the seaport that the containers were discharged before he could make any comment.
He said: “I wouldn’t know which of the ports because we don’t keep containers. One thing people don’t realise is that port operations is now in the hands of terminal operators, so if anything has to do with containers, that’s the responsibility of terminal operators and they are to respond to that.”
The NPA spokesman explained that the NPA had ceded cargo handling to terminal operators and such the ports’ authorities should not be held responsible for cargo handling.
Jato continued: “I need to know which of the seaports? At what time? Whether the importation is now because most of these power containers have been at the seaports for 16 or17 years? Is it now they are bringing them? And when they are brought, where are they keeping them? Which of the ports? So, I need that clarification before I make further comments.”
Before this development, TCN and the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing had initiated steps to ease the clearance of electricity equipment at the ports.
The then Federal Ministry of Power and Mines had initiated a meeting where requests for waivers on rents and demurrage charges were made to shipping lines and bonded terminal operators on the over 2,000 containers imported into the country for the boosting of electricity supply under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP).
The containers, which were imported under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua’s 6,000 megawatts power intervention, are still believed to be abandoned at the ports and bonded terminals across the country.
Among the items listed in the containers are transformers, metres, cables and sundry equipment for use to uplift electricity projects in the country.
Then, a bonded terminal owner, who had sought anonymity, claimed that there were about 200 containers in his custody alone.
He said that the decision by former President Goodluck Jonathan to oversee the power portfolio in the new Federal Executive Council (FEC) was an indication of the seriousness the he attacheed to the power sector.
He said the government would do well to ensure the clearance of the containers than embark on fresh award of contracts for same equipment.
According to the source, “March, last year, the ministry summoned shipping companies and bonded terminal owners to accede to waivers as the importation of the NIPP equipment were special projects for the country.”
He said that the worry was that the containers had since been uncleared and were attracting more demurrage and rent charges over the period.
A source privy to the importation claimed that the abandonment of the containers could be a result of non-payment to contractors by the government which had resulted to abandoning the containers or refusing to take delivery and pay the necessary charges to port owners.
But in June last year, the TCN announced that it had cleared 655 power equipment containers that were stranded at various seaports in the country for more than 15 years.
It stated that over 800 containers were abandoned at different ports in the country for more than a decade, adding that some of them had auctioned.
Mohammed (TCN boss) stated this at a workshop on the review of the TCN supervisory control and data acquisition -Energy management system and telecoms feasibility study report in Abuja.
He disclosed that the total number of stranded containers recovered by the company was 655.
“We have recovered 655 of over 800 containers stranded in Nigerian ports. Also, some of the containers were in the ports for over 15 years, while others had been auctioned, but we’ve traced them and recovered them,” he said.
Mohammed said that in order to stabilise the grid for effective service delivery, the TCN had to, among other things, attain the mandatory effective SCADA-EMS and telecoms facility for the country’s power system operator to efficiently manage and control the grid.
He noted that for the company to achieve the targets, it established the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme that seeks to expand and stabilise the grid and provide necessary flexibility and redundancy consistent with the N-1 reliability criteria.
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