Juliet Alohan. LEADERSHIP. May 29, 2013
The government has also disclosed the phase in of the 3,050MW Mambilla dam in Taraba and the Gurara dam in Suleja, also in Niger State.
Speaking yesterday at the official ground-breaking ceremony of the project site in Zungeru, Niger State, President Goodluck Jonathan noted that the problem of funding and other obstacles which had hindered the effective commencement of the project have now been adequately addressed.
He recalled that the need to exploit the resources of the dam was highlighted by the colonial masters in the ‘50s and should have been one of the dams that would have been constructed before independence.
“Somehow, from that time till date, funding challenges and policies prioritisation caused delays, even though the feasibility study was undertaken in 1982,” Jonathan said.
The Zungeru hydro project was initiated in 1982 when its feasibility studies were initially conducted and submitted to the government by a United States firm, Chas T. Main International, and later reviewed in 2008 by French firm, Coyne etBellier.
The project is now to be constructed by Chinese consortium CNEEC/Sinohydro with a five years completion period broken down to actual completion period of 48 months and a defect liability period of 12 months, according to the contract terms, at a cost of N162.9 billion.
The federal government is expected to provide 25 per cent funding of the contract sum while the Exim Bank of China will provide a counterpart funding of 75 per cent.
Jonathan explained that the project which is one of the many short- and medium-term targets in the road map have not only been achieved but exceeded on many fronts.
Similarly, he said, challenges to private sector participation in the sector have been removed with various incentives such as tax holiday and cost-reflective tariff for power sale put in place to encourage investment.
He said: “Part of the long-term plan is the development of large hydro including the Mambilla and Gurara projects. We believe that our children must not live in a country where they will begin to procure individual generators. Government is committed to start the revolution for change now.”
The president maintained that, in addition to the power from the project, large-scale agricultural activities and agro allied industries will follow “and by implication the Minna airport that has been dormant for many years will become active for export of perishable commodities”.
While commending the state for protecting all other government facilities in its domain over the years, he called for a secured environment for the construction of the Zungeru dam.
The president also used the occasion to announce that the Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) Bill is ready and awaiting assent.
“I have been reminded that the bill for the establishment of HYPPADEC is ready. I have not seen it but since I have been reminded by the governor of Niger State, I will send for it as soon as I get back,” Jonathan said.
In his address, minister of power Prof. Chinedu Nebo stated that the Mambilla and Gurara II dams will benefit from $1.72bn counterpart funding to the sector.
He said, “With the recent approval of $1.72 billion counterpart funding for the sector by the National Economic Council (NEC), not just the Zungeru but Mambilla Dam in Taraba and Gurara II Dam in Suleja, Niger State, will all soon see the light of day.”
Nebo stated that, with these and many other efforts in place, the electricity roadmap and power sector reform programme will be fully on course.
He noted that the necessary regulatory and financial institutions for the operations of the emerging electricity market are already in place. These, he said, include the Bulk Trader supported by the World Bank risk guarantees, the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) and the Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO).
In his remarks, Niger State governor Babangida Aliyu, who appealed to the president to expedite the signing into law of the HYPPADEC Bill which has been passed by the National Assembly, assured of the support of the people of the state to the successful completion of the project.