WORKERS of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria have threatened to go on strike over the non-payment of severance benefits to about 55 percent of them before November 1. Over 2,000 workers under the aegis of the National Union of Electrical Employees, NUEE, staged a protest at the Eko and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Companies in Lagos over the delay in the payment of their severance benefits.
The workers, who locked the gates to the distribution companies and prevented people from entering the premises, lamented that most banks had refused to give financial backing to the schedule sent to them by the federal government, hence the delay in the payment of the benefits to majority of them. For this, they have threatened to commence a nationwide indefinite strike from November 1.
Adeleke Ibrahim, chairman, NUEE, Lagos chapter, who led the protest, said, “Reports reaching the union are that majority of the banks cannot give financial backing to the schedule sent to them by the federal government. This means that the government does not have money,” he said. Ibrahim said if the entitlements were not paid by the end of October, the entire workforce of PHCN in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory would embark on an indefinite strike. According to him, the union was not against privatisation of the company, “but government should pay all workers’ entitlements before the new owners commence operation.”
He, therefore, appealed to the government to ensure that all the agreements it signed with the workers were met in order to avert the strike. Ibrahim said some of the issues in contention included non-payment of retirement savings to the Pension Fund Administrators and non-remittance of dues of two per cent deducted from workers’ salaries to the unions.
Compulsory Registration for Mining Engineers, Geoscientists
THE federal government has mandated all expatriates in the mineral and metal sector to register with the Council of Nigeria Mining Engineers and Geoscientists, COMEG, in its move to sanitise and enforce best international practice in the sector. Mohammed Sada, minister of mines and steel development, disclosed this at the 7th induction ceremony of COMEG in Abuja. The minister explained that the induction was part of the ministry’s functions to install professionalism in the extractive industry. He urged the COMEG to ensure strict compliance with professional guidelines by all its members and to weed out mediocrity from the industry.
“Today marks another achievement of the current board which has been working tirelessly to position COMEG as one of the leading Nigerian professional regulatory bodies. The induction of 362 and 23 corporate bodies lend credence to the desire of COMEG to install professionalism in the extractive industry. The recently held training workshops on preparation of feasibility studies; use of computer application; and code of conduct, ethics, legal rights and responsibilities of professional practice in the Nigeria extractive industry amongst others by COMEG, shows its efforts in carrying out assigned mandates.
“On our part, at the ministry level, we will continue to provide the enabling environment for COMEG to function properly and discharge its responsibilities as the regulator of professional practice in the extractive industry. In this regard, in addition to the standing requirement of mandatory registration with COMEG by the mining and geosciences professionals, expatriates coming into the country to work as mining engineers and geoscientists will be made to register with COMEG as expatriate professionals as well as insist that only registered professionals sign communication letters to the ministry. I appeal to all stakeholders in both public and private sectors to collaborate with COMEG to ensure that relevant professionals under their watch are registered in order to make their professional practice lawful,” he said.
Sada also congratulated the new inductees and urged them to live up to expectation and to carry out their activities in a professional manner and sustain the standards of practice in the extractive industry according to laid down guidelines and provisions to avoid sanctions.
In his address, Chambers Oyibo, COMEG chairman, said the inductees were subjected to professional examination which made them qualified to be registered members of the council. Oyibo, however, complained about series of challenges affecting the council’s performance, among them lack of a permanent accommodation, inability to conduct accreditation programmes for tertiary institutions, and also poor implementation of policies by government for the extractive industry. Also included is poor funding by government, while registered members owed over N40 million as dues.
He also urged the ministries of Water Resources, Environment, Science and Technology, Works, and Petroleum Resources, to prevail on unregistered professionals under their purview to comply with the COMEG Act, to ensure professionalism in the mineral and mining industry.
New Transmission Line for Omotosho/Akure
THE federal government has directed the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, to immediately commence the design and procurement of Omotosho/Ondo/Akure 132kv feeder line. The new feeder lines, when completed, would relieve the existing Akure 132kv lines and also increase the capacity and availability of electricity supply to Ondo, Okitipupa, Igbokoda, Akure, among other communities in Ondo state.
Chinedu Nebo, minister of power, said the project would come on stream and be fully realised within the next 24 months. Nebo, who disclosed this in Ondo State recently during the commissioning of Omotosho Phase 2 power plant, said the construction of the 132kv feeder lines was part of government’s plans to develop the rural economy across the country. He explained that a number of measures would immediately be taken to ensure that the host communities and the entire Ondo State benefited optimally from the power that would be generated from the Omotosho plants.
Commenting on the impact of the National Independent Power Projects, NIPP, Nebo said power generation in the country had improved tremendously with NIPP power stations playing a significant role in meeting the generation demand by Nigerians. He stated that the actual current generating capacity hovered around 4500 megawatt, with the NIPP contribution rising daily as more units are synchronised into the national grid.
The minister added that the successful signing of agreement between the federal government and the new owners of the privatised generation and distribution companies were all pointers to the commitment of President Jonathan’s administration to the growth of the power sector. He stressed that these concrete steps would herald a new horizon in the power sector and would drive darkness far away permanently from Nigeria, adding that the impossible aspect in the power sector has been accomplished by the present administration.
Aggreko to the Rescue
AGGREKO, the world leader in the provision of temporary power and temperature control services, has signed contracts with Société Nationale d’Electricité, SNE, to deliver a 20 MW temporary power package, fuelled by using locally sourced HFO, to help Chad alleviate power shortages currently affecting the country.
The Aggreko installation will bring much needed additional capacity to the local grid and will ensure that a more robust and reliable power supply is delivered to the capital, N’Djamena, in order to help keep business and industry up and running and also keep the lights on in the city.
Christophe Jacquin, managing director, Aggreko North and West Africa, said the company is happy to be assisting SNE, the national utility of Chad in this important project. “By delivering this large-scale, fast-track HFO power solution, we are helping to provide a more consistent and reliable power supply to the people of Chad.”
Djerassem Le Bemadjiel, minister of energy, Republic of Chad, said: “The Aggreko power plant will give us the opportunity and time we need to address the power supply issues affecting N’Djamena. “Their unique ability to utilise locally sourced HFO and their strong track-record across Africa gives us the confidence that Aggreko is the right partner for this vital project.”
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu and Chinwe Okafor
— Nov. 11, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT