Mambilla Hydro Power Project Stalls, Buhari Promised To Finish It.



The state of the Mambilla hydro-electric power project is still where it was since the contract was awarded to two Chinese firms in May 28, 2007, Daily Trust reports.
 The contract was awarded to China Gezhouba Group Company Limited (CGGC) and another Chinese consortium, Sinohydro at the sum of $3.2 billion (N508 billion).

President Buhari during his recent visit to China had promised  a speedy completion of the project.
The project initiated in 1982, with targeted capacity to generate 3,050 megawatts, will be the biggest single hydro-power station in Nigeria.
 Nigeria has 19 thermal stations with a combined capacity of 4,755 megawatts.
The biggest of these is Egbin in Lagos (1,006 mw) followed by Ibom Power, Akwa Ibom (529 mw), Ughelli, Delta (515 mw), Okpai, also in Delta (452 mw), Ihovbor, Benin (279 mw) and Omotosho (254 mw).
The six top thermal stations have a total capacity of 3030 mw which is still far less than Mambilla’s expected 3050 mw.
During a recent meeting with the Premier of the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China Mr Li Keqiang, Buhari in a statement by his spokesperson Garba Shehu, promised speedy completion of the project which has been on the drawing board for 34 years.
But Daily Trust checks at the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing yesterday revealed that no decision has been taken on the project yet.
An official who declined being named because he was not authorised to speak said “a decision has not been taken” on Mambilla yet. It was gathered that intrigues involving some contractors in the project are not resolved yet.
When our reporter visited the main dam site in Taraba state last week, there was still nothing on ground to suggest that work has commenced or will start anytime soon.
Daily Trust exclusively reported in December 16, 2013, how high level intrigues involving powerful interests in the Presidency had delayed the project,
The power ministry officials refused to comment on the status of the project despite several request by our reporter since Monday.
It was learnt that the proposed structure of the contract stipulates that Sinohydro would cover 70 per cent of the project while CGGC would execute the remaining 30 percent.
But sources involved with some of the details said the chief factor delaying the project is a clash of interests involving top officials in the administration of former President Jonathan as well as some powerful former leaders.
How Mambilla project started
The Mambilla hydro has had a torturous history dating as far back as 1982 when Messrs Bennie and Partners prepared the first feasibility studies for the project.
Sources close to the project told Daily Trust that the first scope of the project was 2,600 megawatts and it was handled by a German consulting firm, Lahmeyer around 2005.
Lahmeyer did extensive engineering studies and came up with project scoping and bill of quantities.
But since March 2011, a new project consultant, Coyne et Bellier, a hydro division of Tractebel Engineering of France, was brought to replace Lahmeyer.
Between 2004 and 2006, tenders were placed and bids were received for Lot 1, which was the civil and hydraulic segment.
In 2006, CGC/CGGC won the lot 1 tenders for about $1.4 billion, and by May 28, 2007, the contract was signed.
Also, between 2006 and 2007, Lot 3 was advertised by the Ministry of Power. Tender was harvested by early 2007 but was never evaluated, a source told Daily Trust.
The Lot 2, which has the electro-mechanical segment, comprising turbines, pumps and generators, was left alone and “till date nothing happened to that,” the source said.
Suddenly in 2009, the Ministry of Power cancelled Lot 1 contract given to CGC/CGGC.
Since then, the project has been reviewed and re-scoped from the original concept by the new consultant, which is said to be backed by former Vice President Namadi Sambo, sources said.
Endless intrigues stalling project    
The French project consultant, who is said to have been paid more than N2 billion, has been insisting that the project should be awarded as a “turnkey” project and not in 3 lots. This means that it should one single contract.
On the other hand, the CGC/CGGC, which is backed by the Chinese government, is bent on restoring the sanctity of the first contract of Lot 1.
It was gathered that the former vice president’s group, spearheaded by a former Nigerian diplomat in China, has been putting pressure on the power ministry to hand over the whole project on a turnkey basis to Sinohydro, without going through tender.
The CGC/CGGC, it was learnt, is not leaving any stone unturned in reclaiming its earlier contract, to the extent of threatening that there would be no funding from the Chinese authorities for Mambilla at all.
A truce, it seems, was reached between the CGC/CGGC and Sinohydro as the contract was awarded to the two consortia to be undertaken on a build, operate and transfer concession agreement, at the cost of $3.2billion, with the Federal Government contributing 15 percent of the sum as its counterpart funding.
Sinohydro Corporation and China National Electric Engineering Corporation (CNEEC) are already executing the Zungeru hydro power project in Niger State, which would generate 700 megawatts at the cost $1.3 billion.
No work on site 
Access road to Baro, near Mbulespia village, about five kilometres from Gembu site is still a bush path that only bikes can ply, even though it was paved about 10 years ago during the geo-technical survey of the dam project by Sitech Nigeria Limited and Lahmeyer, local and international consultants respectively. Our reporter could not access the site at Sum Sum due to lack of a road. 
The Mtambi waterfalls at Nghu village, where our reporter gathered that the turbines will be fixed when the mega dam project is completed, has yet to witness any kind of construction also. 
A construction worker who was part of a team that did the geo-technical survey of the dam in 2005, Ismaila Mijinmbu, told our reporter that as far as he was concerned, work was yet to start. 
“I am looking forward to working at the dam site again, so I will be one of the first people in Gembu to know if construction work has started on the project. I was able to buy my first motorcycle after working here and saving some money, so the project is very important to me. Besides, the Baro site is less than a kilometre to my house,” he said.
He said just before 2015 elections, some officials of Jonathan’s administration came in company of some Chinese to inspect the site but since nothing else had happened. 
“Under President Muhammadu Buhari, no government official has visited the site so we are waiting to see what will happen,” he said.
No decision on Mambilla project
When Daily Trust contacted the Special Assistant on Communication to the minister of power, works and housing, Mr. Hakeem Bello on Monday, he said he needs to check with the authorities to respond to us. But he did not get back as at press time.
The spokesperson of the power ministry, Mr Timothy Oyedeji, yesterday said the official response will be sent to Daily Trust after the permanent secretary endorses it but the response did not come.
But a key official of the power ministry said a meeting was held with one of the parties on it.
He said CCGC and Sinohydro will handle the engineering, procurement and construction aspect of the contract for the project. “What we expect now is a signed Cooperation Agreement from both companies agreeing to work together on the project to avoid disputes between them,” the official said.
The project now has a significant $2.5billion (about N497.6bn) difference of an upward review between the cost of $5.7bn now and the initial cost presented in 2011.
The federal government will contribute its 15 per cent equity financing to the project from proceeds of N1trillion to be realized from the sales of 10 power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) whose transaction is pending since 2014.
The ministry official said government may not resort to the NIPP fund alone if it delays, but will seek alternative source for providing the 15 percent fund.
Read more at http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/general/mambilla-hydro-power-project-stalls/144456.html#Op50RRzJ0kr5BcQP.99

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