Forty Chinese engineers have visited the site of the 3050 WM Mambilla hydro-power project at Gembu in Taraba State.
The high profile visit which took place weekend is preparatory to the take off of the project, official sources told Daily Trust.
The visit was undertaken in company of officials from the Federal Ministry Power, Works and Housing and heavy security.
The area is located about 340 kilometres away from Jalingo, the state capital.
The team inspected areas mapped out for the project from River Dongo in Gembu, headquarters of Sardauna local government area.
The main project, including the huge turbines, is to be constructed at Baruf where River Dongo cascaded from 1671metres above sea level into the basin below.
It was gathered that this was the first time such a number of experts visited the site since the plan to construct the dam was conceived several decades ago.
The Dam, according to its design, will also boost irrigation farming in the state, a major source of excitement for thousands people who live in the project area.
A community leader, Alhaji Suleiman Zubairu, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment towards the execution of the project.
Alhaji Suleiman told Daily Trust in an interview that the arrival of experts in large number to the project site was a good indication that the federal government was fully committed to actualisation of the project.
FG speeds project
The squabbles between two Chinese companies that caused setbacks previously, had been resolved, officials told Daily Trust yesterday.
It was also learnt that the scope of work at the site has finally been presented by the Chinese contractors to the federal government.
A consultant and former staff of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) had told our reporter that
President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration got a new French consultant who expanded the project’s scope to 3050mw and re-valued the cost at $3.2bn (about N636.9bn) in 2011.
The power sector expert attributed the delay in flagging off the project since 2011 to the inclusion of Sinohydro Corporation, a Chinese firm that was not part of the original bid winners – CGC/CGGC in 2005.
“The Obasanjo government signed the contract with the Chinese firm in 2007 and if it was followed by now, we would have added 2600mw additional hydropower to the grid,” he said.
Earlier this year, Fashola had said the Taraba State Governor who was a former Minister of State, Power, Mr. Darius Dickson Ishaku acquired the project land and would construct an access road to the site.
“The first thing to do is to acquire the land and deal with compensation issues, which the Governor has promised to deal with.
“The feasibility study has been done and so too the Environmental Impact Assessment. We move one day at a time closer to starting Mambilla,” Fashola had stated.
The Director, Energy Resources Development in the ministry, Mr. Emmanuel Ajayi who responded to a recent Daily Trust enquiries said the federal government this year resolved that the two Chinese firms, Gezhouba Construction Group Corporation (CGGC), and the Sinohydro Corporation must agree to handle the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract.
Mr. Ajayi in the exclusive interview said project cost had been reviewed with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) valuing it at $5.732billion (about N1.140trn).
Another official in the ministry said the project could last for 63 months (over five years) after it is flagged off, including 12 months for a Defect Liability Period (test running). On the funding sources, it was gathered that the federal government will contribute its 15 per cent equity financing after raking in about N1trillion from the sales of the 10 gas-based power plants under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs).
The transaction process has been on since 2014 when the bidders were announced.
Our reporter learnt that should the funding delay, government is ready to explore a loan source for the 15% from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) to fast track the construction as the 85 per cent funding from China is already domiciled with the China Export Import (EXIM) Bank.
Senior Special Assistant on Media to Taraba State Governor, Silvanus Giwa yesterday confirmed the visit to the area by the Chinese firm saying they were there on a feasibility study preparatory to the commencement of the project.
On the issue of compensation Giwa said the Taraba State government was working towards creating the conducive environment for its payment which, according to him, had to come from the Federal Government.
“It is in view of this that the state government recently issued a warning to land owners at the place to stop selling land to speculators in order to avoid crisis in the payment of compensation”, Giwa said.
Also, a former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Babangida Nguroje yesterday confirmed the visit by the Chinese to the Mambilla Hydro Power project site saying he was reliably informed that all necessary arrangements had been concluded for the take- off of the power project.
Nguroje who hails from Nguroje community on the Mambilla said: “I can confirm to you that the Chinese were at the project site yesterday and we have been reliably informed that they are making the necessary arrangements for the commencement of the project.”
He said the people of the Mambilla were excited over the project, especially following the recent visit to the area by former President Olusegun Obasanjo while assuring that they would give their maximum cooperation for the success of the project considering its potential economic benefits.
“We are psychologically prepared for the take- off of the project,” he said even as he appealed to the Federal Government to expedite action on its take-off.
Among the 27 active power generating plants in Nigeria, only three including Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro Generation companies (Gencos) are hydro based electricity source.
The other 24 plants are at the mercy of present vandals activities cutting short gas supply to them.
The country’s power grid had dipped to less than 2,000mw in this year and had barely risen to 4,133mw in mid-August when series of vandalism of gas pipelines crashed it to about 3,500mw yesterday, statistics from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) revealed.
Top most of the hydropower projects are the ongoing 700mw Zungeru project in Niger state, 40mw Gurara project in Kaduna state, 40mw Kashimbilla project and the mega 3050mw Mambilla project, both in Taraba state.
Source : Daily Trust