Liberians are expected to benefit from real electricity in the next two years as a result of the launch on Saturday of the new Mount Coffee Hydropower in White Plains, Harrisburg Township, outside Monrovia by President Sirleaf. The hydro was destroyed in the 1990s during the country's civil conflict. Funds for the project are being provided by the Government of Liberia and some of its funding partners - the Government of Norway, the European Investment Bank or EIB, and the Government of Germany through the KfW Development Bank.
Launching the project on Saturday, President Sirleaf, according to LINA, said Saturday was a "really good day" for Liberia, the commemorative launching of the Mount Coffee Hydropower Rehabilitation Project. She thanked international partners and government ministers as well as members of the National Legislature who worked to make the day a reality.
She stressed that government will continue to promote the collective spirit of being able to get things done, not only for the hydro, but for all the many development activities that are ongoing across the country.
The President also noted that besides the hydro, the river in the area will be able to attract tourists to engage in fishing following the completion of the rehabilitation works, thereby helping to create jobs for people residing in the area.
She recalled that when she visited the Mount Coffee Power Plant in 2007, the road leading to the site was in a deplorable condition, noting that the condition is not the same today. President Sirleaf added that during her visit to the site in 2007, she saw the old turbines and grids intact, but that regrettably when she went back there in 2010, those things had disappeared.
The Liberian leader has, therefore, instructed the Commissioner of the Township of Harrisburg, Samuel Miller, to work with people working at the site to ensure that the materials that will be installed do not disappear.
Introducing the project, the head of the project team Mr. Randy Enns, expressed appreciation to the government and its partners for making the day possible and said that the the Mt. Coffee powerhouse construction has already started and that they are well on the way to meeting the December 2015 goal for the first power transmission. He said it has been underway since May 2012 with the establishment of the Mt. Coffee Project Implementation Unit, or PIU, at LEC.
Mr. Enns said in order to meet the December 2015 goal, the Government of Liberia decided, together with its funding partners, to implement the project on a fast-track basis, which means that detailed planning and actual implementation were carried out in parallel and that by September of 2012, tendering was already underway for two important contracts: The Owner's Engineer Contract, and Generating Equipment Contract.
He said the Owner's Engineer contract was signed in April 2013 with the Joint Venture of Norplan of Norway and Fichtner of Germany and they started immediately providing support to the procurement process.
He further explained that by August 2013 the generating equipment contract was conditionally awarded to Voith Hydro of Germany, which allowed them to immediately commence design work. The formal contract was signed after achieving effectiveness of the financing agreements in October 2013.
The project team manager said there are three remaining contracts to be procured, which he named as major civil works, including rebuilding the dam; the hydraulic steelworks, which is the equipment that controls the flow of the water; and the substations and transmission lines.
He added that all are expected to be all signed by this May, 2014 and major construction will be underway later that month.
Mr. Enns reiterated that the target is to have the first generating unit producing current in December 2015, and placing the remaining units into service in two-month intervals and that the plant would fully be commissioned in mid 2016.