Prof Barth Nnaji, Minister for Power
By Chineme Okafor
Plans by the Federal Government to increase power supply to the national grid by an adding 2605 megawatts of electricity by the year end, appear to be in jeopardy, THISDAY has learnt.
THISDAY Tuesday in Abuja, learnt that a consistent ‘indifferent attitude’ put up by the Engineering, Procurement and Contracting (EPC) contractor handling the Afam/Ikot Ekpene 330kV transmission lines and associated substations in Akwa Ibom State may become ‘Achilles heel’ to Federal Government’s plan to have a quantum leap in power supply.
The EPC contractor, Messrs Paymabargh and Cartlark Nigeria Limited was contracted by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) to undertake Lot 4 which comprises 330KV switching station at Ikot-Ekpene.
Lot 4 which is described as being critical to improved national power supply, also has within it four incoming bays of 330kV double circuit transmission lines coming from Alaoji, Afam, Ikot-Abasi and Odukpani power plants as well as two outgoing 330kV double circuit transmission lines to Ugwuaji in Enugu State.
The plants have combined generation capacities of 2605MW which according to NDPHC would be wheeled into the national grid upon the completion of the project which should have been commissioned in 2011.
NDPHC stated that the contract was awarded to the consortiums in 2006 for an initial duration of two years but it had taken the consortium about six years running without completion of the EPC work on the site.
Leading to the termination of the contract by NDPHC, site inspections were variously conducted by NDPHC, Ministry of Power and Presidential Taskforce on Power (PTFP), all of which provided visible evidences of shoddy contract execution and which informed the decision for the contract termination by NDPHC.
The technical site report which was obtained by THISDAY explained that Messrs Paymabargh and Cartlark had not shown serious commitment to the completion of the project and as such its integrity to complete it was in doubt despite perceived pressure on NDPHC from members of the Senate Committee on Power, Steel and Metallurgy to continue with the EPC.
The technical evaluation report stated, “The EPC-Messrs Paymabargh and Cartlark, in an effort to show accelerated work at the Ikot-Ekpene substation after the notice of termination was issued by the client in November 2011, went ahead with site works without authorisation and without supervision from the project consultant.
They failed to follow appropriate procedures in carrying out the works done within that period. It is to be noted that the site requires sand filling with laterite to secure appropriate levelling. This sand filling exercise requiring volume of laterite of about 60, 000m³ would have required compaction with appropriate equipment at various levels so as to secure appropriate firmness of the substation earthwork before proceeding with foundations and erection of gantries and equipment support structures.”
It further explained that the contract work schedule specifies that gantry erection should only commence after completion of earth works and foundations, adding that erection works were expected to last only four weeks.
Accordingly, “The consequent erection of foundations, columns and equipment support structures as have been done by the EPC without following this procedure has introduced a number of complications which include:
That all work done so far without supervision will require appropriate non destructive testing to ascertain quality checks before proceeding. These tests will determine if some of the structure foundations may have to be demolished.
It may be necessary to dismantle the gantries pending corrections of the procedural errors in site construction which shows that the erected foundations were shallowly buried and could collapse with the force of moment when high wind set in. Furthermore, with these high heights of erecting without appropriate earthen, we may have severe lightening strikes with consequent safety problems on site.”
The evaluation report also noted that sand filling and compaction of the site will now have to be done with miniature compacting machinery with consequent extensive time delays in overall duration of work.
Also, all other civil works on site such as cable trenches, drainages, and maintenance roads network will not commence until sand filling and adequate compaction have been appropriately concluded.
In response to the ongoing controversy over the project shortly after the Senate Committee on Power had visited and recommended that the EPC continues with the project, an independent team led by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) on a site inspection of the project discovered that the integrity of civil work on the substation was in doubt.
The team in a report to NDPHC stated that completion of the substation is absolutely critical to delivering an alternative evacuation channel from power stations in the South east and South south into the national grid at Jos.
“There was no assurance that the EPC can meet up with the time-bound delivery of the station which is also critical in evacuating stranded power at Afam power plant via Afam substation.
The current status clearly demonstrates that the EPC will be unable to achieve the target completion schedules with the desired quality of work. The suitable approach is to get the EPC to accept the settlement agreement and commence the joint inventory so that a more competent EPC can take over while the dry season still lasts.”