BY AKAMANU JENNIFER
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, credited the collapse being witnessed in the power sector to liquidity problems and vandalism of key facilities, among others.
Fashola spoke at a press briefing at the end of a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, he was accompanied by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
Fashola identified one of the problems as liquidity challenge, saying gas suppliers had not been fully paid, therefore causing back and forth between the electricity distribution and generation companies.
He said apart from sabotage in the western axis of the Niger Delta, the Escravos-Lagos pipeline and the Forcados export terminal had been out of operation.
The minister stated, “If you can’t produce oil, you cannot 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 (for the poor power supply).
“What then happens on the grid is that once it goes below 3,000MW, 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. These are in a sense almost necessary to protect the entire system; so, what then happens is start-ups, we do black starts from various power plants.”
Fashola added while efforts were ongoing to restart the process last week, a fire outbreak at Afam affected the control room, while another fire broke out at Kainji. He said efforts were ongoing to repair the plants.
“As of yesterday (Tuesday), we were back to 2,900MW. So, we are building up back again and very soon you will see some stability. These are setbacks on the road to incremental power, but we will overcome them,” the minister assured Nigerians.
Fashola said the FEC approved the completion of the Odogunyan transmission substation in Ikorodu, Lagos and the provision of additional transformer capacity at the substation with 260 MVA transformers and 132KVA transmission lines.
This, he said, would complete the works in that area generally known within the power industry as Ayobo West.
He said the initial contract awarded in 2009 was about N3.225bn, while a revision of N274.3m to complete it was approved. This, he added, increased the sum to N3.5bn.
The minister said, “The contract had been awarded before now but not completed, because it was not 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, 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 will add to the expansion capacity of the grid, just as what we have done in Kaduna and previous approvals.”