By Hector Igbikiowubo
THE first phase of the 1074 Megawatts (Mw) power plant at Umuobasi-Ukwu, near Alaoji in Abia State, one of those being constructed under the National Integrated Power Programme (NIPP) have achieved 85 per cent completion with indications that one of the turbines could be fired in the next eight months.
Hopes for the imminent completion of the first phase of the power plant follows the contractorsâ€™ movement of 12 turbines across the Imo River after two years of delay over mode of transportation and possible budget variation. The turbines were stranded at the Onne port in Rivers State.
Mr. Biyi Sangowawa, an Executive Director of Rockson Engineering Company Limited, contractors handling the project told Vanguard at the Imo River, site of the crossing of the turbines.
â€œWith the turbines at site now, phase one of the Alaji plant is about 85 per cent complete. By the time the turbines are placed and all the other additional equipment are in placed, we will be getting into a pre-commissioning phase. At the pre-commissioning phase, that is where the original equipment manufacturer, General Electric, will be called in.
“Gbaran is about 60 per cent complete, Omoku is 60 per cent, Egbema is about 75 per cent and all the turbines have been installed. What is delaying things there is that General Electric have to move people there for the pre-commissioning stages.
At Omoku, there is still a lot of money being owed, but the contract is ongoing and civil engineering works is ongoing. At Alaoji, it is very difficult to state the phase of completion because we have some common services for both phase one and two and there is a lot of work which we have put in for the combined cycle. For example we are constructing 12 million litres of water reservoir for the combined cycle which is not necessary for phase one start up,â€ he said.
He recalled that the project suffered two years of delay in execution because of the issue of Imo River crossing, noting that since then, the government and the NIPP have looked at the terms of the contract and issued a guarantee which the company was able to clear with its bankers.
â€œAnd we were able to commence the process of constructing a ramp. It took us about two months to construct, we originally planned for four months. We had good cooperation from Rivers, Abia states and all the surrounding communities. Since then we have been able to transport the turbines within two weeks against the four weeks we originally planned.
We expect that if all goes well, in the next 6 to 8 months, we should be able to fire one of the plants.
Sangowawa disclosed that the Aloaji project will contribute power to the national grid in phases, adding that while the first phase is the simple cycle, there are four units which would come on stream one after the other.
â€œWhen we cast a foundation base, we have to wait for 28 days for it to core, there are some equipment we have to pre-commission and check for effectiveness. What can help us greatly is for the balance of our equipment stuck at the ports to come out within the shortest possible time,â€ Sangowawa explained.
Also speaking, Mr. James Abiodun Olotu, the Managing Director of the Niger Delta Power Holding company Limited, owners of the National Integrated Power Programme explained the reason for the delay the NIPP had suffered.
â€œThere was a legal issue as to how right it is to use funds from that to fund the project and the federal revenue mobilisation agency took the federal government to court questioning the legality of the source of funding and that sort of truncated the whole arrangement,â€ he explained.
Rockson engineering is handling a power plant at Alaoji, Gbaran, Omoku, Egbema and a sub-station and transmission line at Owerri.
Earlier, Sangowawa explained that the company had not been able to do any work at the Owerri site because they were driven out in 2007, adding that government is in the process of releasing funds to pay compensation for these particular projects.
He said compensation for the power plants, were paid by the company and that government have since been refunded all of them, except the one for Alaoji owing to contractual issues.
The NIPP is owned by the Federal, States and Local Governments. Basically it is being funded by the three tiers of government through the instrumentality of the excess crude oil account.