There are fears that power projects worth N3.7billion may be abandoned in Kaduna State. Managing Director of the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company (KEDC), Alhaji Idris Mohammed, who expressed the fears saturday said electricity projects under the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company worth N3.7billion may be abandoned if the federal government fails to complete them before the eventual sale of the company to private investors.
Mohammed made the disclosure when the Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, paid a working visit to the company. He said lack of budgetary provision for the projects in the 2013 budget may stall the completion of the projects.
He noted that majority of the projects spread across Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states are already 50 percent completed, adding that the company also need to install about 68,000 electricity metres before the end of the year in order to improve revenue generation.
But the minister’s visit to one of the projects sites was nearly marred by massive protest by some land owners in Kudendan ward in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The minister, who visited the area to inspect the 215 megawatts power station being constructed there, was met by the land owners who were protesting government’s alleged failure to give them alternative land to settle after taking over their lands for the project. The protesting land owners told the minister that four years after the government took their lands with a promise to provide an alternative place for them, nothing has been done.
Spokesman of the land owners, Francis Nwobodo, said when he was governor, “Vice President Namadi Sambo came here and told us that the government was interested in this land and that the power plant they will build will benefit all of us.
“He promised to give us another land and based on that, we willingly gave away our land. Four years after, we have not heard anything. The late governor Yakowa came here and promised that they will do something. Some of us have died and yet, we are yet to be given another land.”
The Minister however commended the protesting land owners for the peaceful nature of their protest and for giving their support for the project. He said the government was willing to fulfill its promise of giving them another land, pointing out that something must have happened which led to the delay in fulfilling the promise.
“I will talk with the governor of Kaduna State on this matter when we meet. I would have seen him today, but he is traveling. I want to assure you that I will talk with him. The power project that is being constructed here will give you more power than what you are currently enjoying,” the minister said.
The KEDC Managing Director however told the Minister that an average of N980.2 million is generated monthly by the company, while the total debt owed the company as at the end of May 2013 stands at N19.8 billion
He complained that 18 power plants under the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) were awarded to a single company, Newsman Engineering, which, according to him, had not shown any sign of completing them and urged the minister assist in finding out what why the contractor seems to be unserious with the work.
“Eighteen power projects under the NIPP were awarded to Newsman Engineering and they are yet to be delivered. We have been trying to access the level of completion of these projects without success. I am appealing to the Minister to use your good office to intervene and get them to give us a definite date of completion of these projects,” he said.
Responding, the Minister assured that the government will do everything possible to ensure that the projects are not abandoned. “I hate abandoned projects. But let me say that most of these projects were awarded long ago and abandoned due to one reason or the other,” he said.
Nebo noted that because of the belief within the ministry that the privatisation exercise would have been completed by December 2012, funds were not made available for the completion of the projects adding that intervention funds are being released for the completion of the projects.
“Everybody had felt, even within the ministry that the privatisation exercises would have been concluded by December last year. That did not happen and unfortunately, the ministry did not have money to complete distribution and generation companies whose privatisation would have been completed by December 2012 and unless there are intervention funds available, they are dead on arrival.
“Some of the Disco, including Kaduna has received intervention fund. There is another fund that will be released. We are going to source funds to do that even though it is not easy. It is like squeezing water out of stone. We are working very hard to ensure that we minimise incidences of abandoned projects,” he said
The Minister also assured that the Federal Government was doing everything possible to revive the Rural Electrification Projects which was long abandoned, stressing that the government was injecting money into the projects to ensure the provision of electricity to the rural consumers.
The Minister also commissioned the Gonin-Gora 7.5 KVE Injection Sub-station, Ungwan Mauzu National Integrated Power Project (NIPP), Abakpa power plant station and the Zaria Injection Sub-station and inspected the Kudenda Power Plant Station.
Information from ThisDay was used in this report.