Chineme Okafor in Abuja
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, wednesday said there are a lot of court cases instituted against ongoing electricity projects in the country which are slowing down the progress of work on the projects.
A statement from the Ministry of Power quoted Fashola to have said this at a workshop for judicial officers in Abuja.
He stated that these court cases had become bottlenecks for the sector which is now largely driven by private investments.
According to him, the fundamental issues in these cases were centered on the conflict between private interests and public rights to goods and services.
He disclosed that since coming on board, his office have had to deal with many litigations with grave consequences on manpower lost, youth unemployment and loss of revenue that would have accrued to government and other actors.
He thus challenged judicial officials in the country to find legally permissible ways of framing such cases in the courts to ensure that they are dispensed off on time rather than keeping them on for long and encumbering works at power projects’ sites.
“There are outstanding issues on right of way disputes, over claims and counter-claims of ownership, we must find a policy that will protect rights without stalling development,” said Fashola.
He added that: “These are cases about national development, national productivity, employment or lack of it, and prosperity.”
“Where injunction orders are given to freeze project accounts that would stop supplies and works, as we have seen, the court is not protecting the claimant, but rendering people jobless,” the minister added.
Fashola further said: “There are a lot of disputes on-going, some have dragged for 13 years, the recently resolved crisis by government between Enugu Disco and Geometric Electric has denied the nation the realisation of about 200MW that could have simply solved problem in Aba and Araria axis.”
He stated that out of 120 ongoing transmission projects that had been embarked on by the government across the country, only a fraction of them are free from disputes which are largely on rights of way and compensation for government takeover of lands earmarked as transmission highway.