Minister of Power Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola yesterday explained why there is poor power supply in the country. He spoke to State House reporters after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The FEC meeting approved the upward review of the contract for the completion of the Odogunyan transmission substation in Ikorodu, Lagos. The contract, which was awarded in 2009 and abandoned due to lack of funds, was reviewed by N274.3 million to N3.5 billion.
Fashola said: “You will recall that in previous briefings we told you what the strategy was, incremental power in a short while and that is what we are addressing. Expanding the transmission and improving generation.
This approval was to help us complete the Odogunyan transmission substation in Ikorodu, Lagos and to provide additional transformer capacity at the substation 260 MVA transformers and transmission lines of 132KVA.
“This will complete the works in that area generally known within the power industry as Ayobo West. You will recall that we visited the substation at our last meeting, this is an extension of that. The contract had been awarded before now but not completed because it wasn’t paid for. It was awarded in 2009 and should have been completed
in 18 months which would have been sometimes in May 2011 but because of lack of funding which you know the story, nothing happened. “That is the approval we got today and of course the cost has been revised as a result of the economic realities so that this can be completed and put to use and this would add to the expansion capacity to the grid, just as what we have done in Kaduna and previous approvals that we have shared with you. “The initial contract I think was N3.225 billion or there about, the revision that has been approved is N274.3 million to complete it, so it goes from about N3.2 to N3.5 billion.” he said
The Minister also gave reasons for the dwindling power supply in the country. He said: “We heard there was liquidity problems, gas suppliers haven’t been fully paid you have back and forth between DisCos and GenCos so those are the issues. Apart from the sabotage that we have had from the Western axis of the Niger Delta, so the Escravos Lagos pipeline is not operational, the Forcados export terminal too has been out of operation.
“So, if you can’t produce oil, you can’t take the gas. The gas is the fuel that the power plants need. You have seen what we have been doing in increasing the capacity in firing transmission but if we don’t have fuel to fire the plants, that is the reason.
“What then happens on the grid is that once it goes below 3,000 MW, it becomes unstable. It is like in your house when you have surges and your circuit breakers trip to protect the system. So once it falls below a certain threshold you then have those trip offs. There are in a sense almost necessity to protect the entire system, so what then happens is start-ups, we do black starts from various power plants.”
Fashola added: “While we were trying to start last week we had a fire in Afam and that affected the control room and these are normal engineering accidents that can happen, the mechanical parts can break down, we also had another fire in Kainji. We have tried to repair them over the last weekend while negotiations with the gas companies are ongoing.
“I have been meeting with the gas suppliers, trying to see how we can pay off some of these debts whilst fix other problems. As I continue to say, it is not technical but financial, vandalism of pipelines is not technical, people are destroying, they are hungry. Until we resolve these behavioural issues, people collect money, are they remitting everything in a manner that is fair, even if it is not enough, some people hold up their own share and they ask themselves why should we continue to supply if we can’t get paid because there are bankers and financiers?
“So we are talking with everybody, trying to resolve it. As at yesterday we were back to 2900, so we are building up back again and very soon you will see some stability. These are set backs on the road to incremental power but we will overcome them.”