Saturday, 16 June 2012
In this report, ALPHONSUS AGBHOR examines the criticisms trailing the Delta State Independent Power Plant (IPP) project and its true state.
The question has been asked several times, whether it is a ruse or a fact that Delta State government is actually building an Independent Power Plant (IPP) to boost power supply in the state.
Answers have, indeed, come from one direction; that is the state government which, for over six years, has continued to explain that the project is real. However, majority of the people are doubtful that the project, which was initiated by former Governor James Ononafe Ibori, who is now serving a jail term in London, was only on the drawing board.
Opposition parties went to town that the project was another avenue to siphon huge sums of money into private pockets.
They hinged their argument on the allegation that they have moved round the state even to Oghara and could not locate the project site. Even when the site was confirmed, the opposition parties alleged that the site has been taken over by weeds.
Although nothing was going on at the site in Oghareki for some time, political office holders made people to believe that the project was on course.
After years of guesses, consultations and negotiations, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. There is now hope that something is being done to assuage the doubts of many who also faulted the location of the project at Oghareki in Oghara kingdom which, they argued, is just a stone throw from Edo State and right inside a swampy creek.
However, Chief Ibori, who was determined to bring development nearer his domain, decided to site the project in Oghara.
Oghara, an old business community harboured companies like the National Salt Company, Nigerian Shipping Line, Lewis Pit, a foremost rubber company, and a host of oil companies which built their tanks along the River Ethiope bank.
When the Ibru brothers invested in fish business, they considered it worthwhile to build their multi-million naira cold room in Oghara, while U.A.C. made a favourable impact on the community. All these activated the economy of the old Bendel State.
So, when Chief Ibori decided to pull most of the state and federal institutions to Oghara, he probably did not make any mistake, considering the contribution of the town to national growth.
Such institutions in Oghara include the Delta State University Teaching Hospital, adjudged today in medical circles as the most equipped and most modern hospital in the country, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) institute, the Nigerian Naval Logistic Command, the Mobile Police Barrack and a private university owned by the former governor, among others.
After much comments on the project, the IPP projects now appear to be taking shape, as the first batch of 37 components for the turbine has arrived Oghara.
Built by Rolls Royce of the United Kingdom (UK), the second batch is presently at Onne Port, Rivers State. It includes the generators.
At conception, the government acquired a piece of land measuring 600 metres by 1800 metres along Ajagdudu road, Oghareki right inside the swamp.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed and immediately after, the Delta State government went ahead and incorporated the Delta Electric Power Limited which shall manage the IPP.
Power generation licence is said to have been issued by the Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission NERC, while the state government has obtained approval to supply power to the PHCN grid.
The design for the transmission line from Oghareki to Amukpe 132/33kv transmission substation is completed, although the state government is yet to award the contract, estimated at over N6.225 billion.
The initial cost of the IPP project at inception was N21.750 billion, but now reviewed to over N23.207 billion.
So far, over N14.879 billion has been expended on the project. Meanwhile, following criticisms by the opposition political parties in the state, journalists were on tour of the project site recently to see things for themselves.
However, it was nightmarish going through the road to the site, especially now that the rains are heavy. Work has started in earnest with piling and construction of paths (roads) within the site to enable movement of heavy equipments and vehicles.
Landscaping is on course, while the fencing is still in progress.
Reporters were almost disappointed until the Secretary to the State Government, Comrade Ovuzourie Marcauley, took them to the foremost Ibru Cold Room complex where the components of the turbines are being kept.
According to Marcauley, the bridge along Ajagodudu – Ogharaki road would be reconstructed to enable it carry the weight of the equipment, stating that the short distance road, now in deplorable condition, needed to be reconstructed to ease movement of the turbine.
“Gentlemen, if you are expecting to see buildings here at the site, you will be disappointed. This is not a housing estate, it is an electricity project.
“As soon as the piling is completed, the equipment would be moved into this site and it wouldn’t take long, Delta will have its IPP.
“Oppositions and critics are saying that the whole place has been taken over by weeds. Where are the weeds?
“Nobody has ‘eaten’ any money; you have seen the turbine, the others are in Onne Ports, Rivers State and we will take you there to see things for yourself before conveying them here.
“Let those criticising the projects join us to build a virile state,” the secretary affirmed.
The project is being executed in four stages and if details on the plant is anything to go buy, it is obvious that the power to be generated, which is about 100mw, would not save the entire state.
The northern part of the state may lose out entirely, while some of the districts in the south senatorial zone may also be affected.
By and large, the power situation in Delta North, particularly in Asaba, Ogwashi-Uku and Issele-Uku axis, which receive their supply from Obosi, in Anambra State, is a pitiable one, but the power supply in Delta Central and Delta South is a bit stable to attract investors.
To ameliorate the situation, Delta State government should assist the PHCN to facilitate its step-down projects in Asaba as part of tapping into the resolution reached at the recently held economic summit geared towards promoting industrialisation in Delta State.
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Category: Other States