The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) has disclosed that the 3 phase Roadmap embarked upon by the present administration in the sector is on course, adding that the Government is committed to the implementation of time lines and targets set in the document.
The Minister stated this when the House of Representative Committee on Power led by its Chairman, Hon. Daniel Asuquo paid an oversight visit to the Ministry in Abuja.
According to the Minister, the Ministry has set itself on the path of achieving incremental, stable and uninterrupted power supply to Nigerians. To achieve this, there was need to look into the expansion of transmission lines across the country and to complete some on-going generation projects. It has the possibility of energizing and stabilizing the grid, thereby increasing power supply.
He said Government is equally worried about lack of maintenance culture, which led to non – optimal performance from these plants. The position is relevant to the state of affairs in the 3 key nation’s hydro plants of Jebba, Kainji and Shiroro. Through the assurance from donor agencies and multilateral organizations like the Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA), assistance where rendered for rehabilitation works which led to the recovery of substantial Megawatts of electricity on the grid.
The Government is conscious of the importance of transmission in the electricity value – chain. Unfortunately, what was inherited was a weak line, hence government is poised on strengthening the wheeling capacity, so as to ensure that more power is transported.
To this end, the Minister reeled out some critical transmission projects across the country as in Gusau, Kaduna, Enugu, Katsina and Alaoji
He assured his audience that significant progress have been recorded since the administration came on– board. With the realization of these critical projects, stability of the network would be guaranteed hence we would be able to sustain un- interrupted power supply.
The Minister observed that on assumption of duty, there was a number of lingering legal disputes that needed to be resolved mostly out of court. For instance, the disagreement between Enugu Electricity Distribution Company and Geometric Electric Company over Ariaria area of Abia state has been successfully tackled. Hence, it is expected that soon, additional 200MW of power would be made available to the national grid.
Also, it is to the credit of this administration that all disputes that have stalled the realization of the Mambilla Hydro project for over 3 decade have been resolved. Soon work will commence on the 3, 050MW project.
Reacting to the call for the reversal of the privatization of power assets, the Minister said that it will be impossible to reverse the sale as the exercise is just three years old, and needs time to mature.
On the other challenges facing the exercise like the payment of the remaining former PHCN staff, the minister assured the Legislators that government would verify and pay all outstanding staff. He also promised that government will assist Distribution Companies to recover their debts arising from unpaid bills from all customers including government agencies. He told the House Committee members that his job schedule does not include fixing of tariff. On the insinuation that he is in support of the increase, the Minister dismissed this, insisting that the fixing of tariff is a collective efforts of all stakeholders under the supervision of the Nigerian Electricity Commission (NERC) and not his ministry.
Earlier, Chairman, House Committee on Power, Hon Daniel Asuquo stated that the legislative arm of government is desirous of partnering with the Ministry in other that that the sector achieves success under Fashola’s watch.