March 19, 2024

Energy Crisis: Vandalism, debt, others hinder 8,000MW supply —Minister


Adebayo Adelabu

By Ediri Ejoh

THE Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has decried the huge revenue lost to the incessant attacks on electricity facilities by vandals who have indulged in blowing up these facilities with explosive.

This came as the Minister assured of government’s plan to address the debts, (GENCOs N1.3 trillion and Gas suppliers N2 trillion) to drive efficiency in service delivery across the value chain.

The Minister, who was received by a team led by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Ikeja Electric, Mrs. Folake Soetan, expressed delight over the scorecard of the utility firm.

Speaking at the official visit to IE’s Headquarters, the Minister said, “Let me start by congratulating you for the good job that you are doing here and in every district, you are still topping the list.

“I am bothered about what is happening. I am not discouraged by the sinking reputation of the power sector’s operators. I believe that this is the time that we can go around the operators to ensure that we do things differently.

“With my six months foray in this sector, I found out that achieving a stable, uninterrupted, functional, electric supply is not insurmountable. It is not as the issues are so simple. It is not rocket science. You know what to do, what to fix, what to get, and with time, you get significant improvements. It can start gradually.

Funding challenge

He said: “There is a lack of funding in the sector, which has led to the issue of infrastructure deficit. Once, we have the money (which we are working on) and can pay for gas suppliers and generation debts, we will achieve an operational capacity of almost 8,000MW, as we have almost 13,000 installed capacity.

“On the infrastructure deficit, there is a need for the DISCOs to as a matter of urgency, drive more investment to the sector as certain infrastructure is needed to drive capacity. So, when you have an increased power supply, you should not be caught unaware.”

Subsidy not sustainable

On subsidy, Adelabu, said: “We will not allow little or low investment in the sector , else it will be achieved by legislation. I am looking at capitalization requirements for DISCOs that will compel them to bring more funds. Because power business is a highly capital-intensive and requires lots of investment in infrastructure. But investment can never be lost; it always translates into revenue for sales and revenues for the investor. So, we believe that our Discos must be ready to invest in high-impact infrastructure.”

Capital punishment for vandals

The Minister, who bemoaned the rising cases of vandalism of power assets across the country, said: “We need scapegoats. We are ready to give them the right punishment in terms of prosecution. Punishment for vandals should go beyond a six months jail term. Capital punishment should be meted out to power vandals. They kill people, and they kill businesses.

 “You have made landmark achievements in the last 10 years. You have done well with other DISCOs. We can just shake our hands and leave, but they say the biggest room is the room for improvement.”

We are building infrastructure — Ikeja DisCo

Speaking earlier, the managing director of Ikeja Electric, Mrs. Folake  Soetan, stated that the company has achieved a lot in terms of infrastructure upgrade.

She said: “The capex that stood at N5bn in 2003 during the takeover has been increased to N50.58 billion by 2023. Our metering density has also increased. Standing at 125,000 meters per year target rate for the first four years.”