Cross River — Silence on the part of contractors handling the National Independent Power Project (NIPP) in Odukpani Local Government Area, Cross River State, has raised questions as to whether or not they can meet the Federal Government's deadline of completing all power projects across the country this year.
The contractors declined to answer questions from journalists on the National Good Governance Tour team when the delegation went on an inspection of the project. When asked when the project was awarded, completion date and cost, journalists were told that the contractors cannot respond to those questions.
Earlier, Uzoma Ohanije, who spoke for NIPP, said the project is already at 93 per cent completion stage, but is being stalled by the challenge of gas supply to the plant and back feed. He, however, said already, a temporary arrangement has been reached with Oando gas for the supply of gas by March 27.
Speaking for the contractors, Marubeni West Africa, Johnson Uko, said the gas supply from Oando will only be sufficient for two units (out of the 5) that will be on stream by May. The two units will generate 225 megawatts of electricity while the entire 5 units will generate 565 megawatts.
The contractors however declined to give a tentative date when power generation will begin. Information Minister, Labaran Maku, expressed worry that the project is shrouded in uncertainty, particularly as the Federal Government has given 2013 as the deadline to complete all power projects across the country.
"Power is the major problem of our economy and huge investment has been sunk into the sector already. We cannot wait indefinitely to begin to reap our harvests. You cannot say you do not know about your projects. You cannot be speaking in tongues. There must be a technical schedule which is definite. Gas is not your problem, it is the government's; and the government is already working tentatively to make this available," he said.
Daily Trust gathered that the contract was awarded in 2006 to be completed within two and a half years, but this was later reviewed and the project was billed for takeoff fully by 2014, with the availability of gas.