Nigeria’s federal government on Thursday attributed the delay in executing the $5.8 billion Mambilla hydroelectric power project, expected to add 3,050 MW to the nation’s electricity output, to court cases being pursued by its former contractor.
Minister of Power, Mr. Sale Mamman, however, said in a statement issued in Abuja that the government was finalising settlement terms leading to an amicable arbitration, so that the project could take off.
Mamman, in the statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr. Aaron Artimas, told the management team of the Chinese firm handling the project, including the Vice President of the China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company, Mr. Yuan Baoy, that despite the delay in the take-off of the project, efforts were being made to ensure that the legal impediment did not derail the nation’s efforts at boosting public power supply.
He added that President Muhammadu Buhari has also directed the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to review the progress so far made on the project and carry out “value engineering” in pursuit of optimised implementation and delivery.
He said: “The government investment outfit has been given three months to submit a comprehensive report detailing the findings of the value engineering and also provide recommendations to move the project forward.”
According to him, as part of the process of acquiring land for the hydroelectric power project, the Ministry of Power has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Taraba State Government, leading to land and aerial survey mapping.
He stated that sensitisation and enlightenment activities had also been carried out with the full buy-in and participation of stakeholders and hosts communities.
The Project Delivery Committee (PDC) Chair, Mr. Faruk Yabo, while giving some insights into the take-off of the project, said the ministry had already committed N200 million to the training of junior and mid-level artisans, to ensure the availability of manpower for the project.
He added that the artisans include electricians, plumbers, masons, drivers and cooks, who will work on the site.
He said: “Three important issues, which may threaten the smooth execution of the project, have been prioritised for special attention; these include: financial viability and sustainability, land acquisition and the arbitration to free the project from any encumbrances.”
Yabo stated that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation had reached an understanding with Sunrise, the former contractor and an amount agreed on as part of the settlement terms.
He, however, said the implementation of the agreement terms might have been delayed by the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, Baoyi had assured the minister that his company was ready to execute the contract once all issues regarding financing, land acquisition and arbitration were settled.
Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja