8 November 2012

Nigeria: Minister, Contractors Fight Over Mambilla, Zungeru Hydro Contracts

A drama played out at the power ministry when contractors handling the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla Hydro and the 700 megawatts Zungeru Hydro plants openly engaged the Minister of State for Power, Zainab Kuchi, over the expected date of completion of projects.

The quarrel took place Tuesday night after parties signed contract documents for both projects in Abuja. The Mambilla project will cost $3. 2billion (N512bn) and was awarded Chinese Sino Hydro Corporation while the Zungeru project will gulp $1.2billion (N192 bn.) and was in favour of the China National Electrical Equipment Corporation.

Trouble started when the minister announced 2014 as the completion date of the projects but the contractors and project consultants disagreed with her, saying it was impossible to deliver the projects in less than six years considering the magnitude of the job.

The projects will add a cumulative 3, 750mw to the national grid. The minister insisted that 2014 was sacrosanct, saying the government had no time to foot drag. The projects commenced in 1984.

The minister had said the projects would be completed in 2014 but shortly before the close of proceedings, a director from Sunrise Mr. Michael Okonkwo which is the local partner to Chinese Sino Hydro Corporation requested to speak.

He said it was practically impossible to deliver the project because of the magnitude.

He said it would take a minimum of five years, noting that was the agreement reached during the discussion phase before the signing ceremony.

He said "that might be what the people want to hear but it is important to set the record straight because I know that journalists are here and they are going to report it. It is not possible to complete the project in 2014."

A member of the project consultant, Engr. Joseph Okoye, also corroborated the Sunrise representative.

In a swift reaction, Kuchi disagreed with the consultants, saying "this government has no time to foot drag. There is a transformation agenda by Mr. President; we have to drive it fast. We don't have six years to deliver it. President Jonathan would commission the projects in 2015."

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