The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, has said the constant destruction of key gas to power infrastructure contributes to about 22 per cent of overall drops in electricity supply experienced in Nigeria’s Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) especially recently.
Nebo noted the act of sabotage against the country gas-to-power pipeline networks by unscrupulous individuals have taken a different turn with discoveries that dynamites have often been used to blow out the lines.
He gave an instance where the Western gas supply trunk line from Warri through Escravos was found to have been damaged at many points far more than it was initially imagined.
The minister told members of the House of Representatives committee on power which were led by their chairman, Hon. Patrick Ikhariale, on an oversight visit to the ministry that: “Another one at the Eastern axis at Bokoloma were punctured at many points and it would take the next one month to fix.”
Stating the impacts of these acts on the nation’s electricity supply system and economy at large, Nebo requested the parliamentarians to enact stiff laws to ensure that heavy penalties are meted on the saboteurs while serving as deterrence to others, insisting that such acts should not be tolerated.
“The worrisome problem associated with vandalism according informed the convocation of stakeholders’ forum by the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). This forum brought together all security agencies to tackle the menace, it was resolved that information sharing among all stakeholders is key to fighting vandalism,” Nebo added.
He also spoke on the budget performance of the ministry, saying that partial release of funds from statutory sources have relatively affected the implementation of projects initiated by the ministry. He however reminded the legislators of the peculiarity of executing projects in the electricity sector especially with regards to the level of standard engineering prudence required to ensure safety and efficiency of such projects.
On some of the ministry’s achievements during the year under review, Nebo explained that the third Benin-Onitsha 330kV double circuit transmission line have been completed while the 215 megawatts (MW) Kaduna power plant was about 70 per cent into implementation.
The minister equally stated in his response to reports on the hasty decision of new owners of privatised power generation and distribution assets of defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to disengage former workers of the electricity utility company that it was not expedient for them to disengage the workers in view of their possible contributions to the successful transmission of the sector from government operated to private sector management.
He also informed the lawmakers about a new initiative; “operation light up rural Nigeria” which the ministry with supports from President Goodluck Jonathan has embarked on to employ off-grid solar power systems to provide electricity to rural communities across Nigeria.
According to him, President Jonathan has in this vein approved for about three pilot projects to be executed in each state of the federation.
Ikhariale had earlier hinted that like other Nigerians, the legislators were equally concerned about the low level of power generation recently experienced nationwide. He equally urged the ministry to initiate urgent steps to forestall possible degeneration of the situation to degenerate, at the same insisting that new owners of successor companies of defunct PHCN were unnecessarily in a hurry to sack workers who he said are key instruments in running the sector.