THE Senate yesterday urged the National Council in Privatisation (NCP) and all those involved in the process of concession of the Zungeru power project to as a matter of urgency suspend it until the necessary infrastructure was put in place to avoid the pitfall of a similar exercise in the past.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during a public hearing on the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP) located in Niger State power probe by his Committee on Power, the Chairman, Senator Gabriel Suswam, PDP, Benue North East,
said that the concession of the Zungeru power project be put on hold till all the major players can speak with one voice.
Suswam has however scheduled another meeting for Tuesday next week with Ministers of Power, Finance, Budget and National Planning; Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission NERC; Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC; Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE, among others to attend.
At the meeting, the Senate explained that it was not opposed to the concession arrangements, but was surprised at what it described as jet speed the programme was taking when the vital infrastructure that would help in evacuating the power, like the 132 lines and the 35 km was at 15% completion.
The Senate decided to call for a halt of the process of the discordant tunes from the major stakeholders as concessioners said the concession will be for 30 years while Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) said it will be for 25 years.
The Minister of Power, Engr Abubakar Aliyu has thrown his weight behind the concession, just as he said that the project would be completed almost a year before the targeted date of June 2024.
The BPE which also supported the concession made it clear that it will not concession the project until it was completed and tested to be sure it can generate the 700 Mega Watt it was designed for even though it could not put a value to what the concessionaire will pay for the project.
The BPE noted that expressions of interest have been received from 11 consortiums and the agency is currently evaluating the bids from each of them to ascertain which of them has the financial muscles and expertise to handle the project.
The Project consultant also welcomed the concession but warned that the project has to be completed and tested and that other issues of notice of dispute served on the Ministry of Power by the contractor have to be settled before the concession can go on.
The project is funded based on a debt: equity ratio of 75%:25% with Exim Bank of China providing a loan in the sum of $984, 323,013.08.
The balance of $309, 250,000.00 was provided by the Federal Government as counterpart funding for the project.
The loan agreement for the project was executed on 27th September 2013 which is the commencement date of the project and the project was first conceived in 2001 and revised in 2012.
KNTags: Gabriel Suswam senate Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant