Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Disturbed by the perennial challenges facing power sector in the country, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Power, Dan Asuquo and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu state yesterday warned that the problem might persist until stakeholders in the sector and communities hosting NIPP facilities in the country decide to work together with a view to creating an enabling environment for the execution of projects in the sector.
While Asuquo asked beneficiaries of ongoing power projects across the country to desist from demanding outrageous way-leaves and compensations from government and contractors handling projects in the country, Ugwuanyi on his part insisted that it had become imperative for all the hurdles threatening the delivery of uninterrupted power supply in the country to be cleared.
The duo spoke when the Committee from the National Assembly paid a courtesy call on the governor shortly after returning from the inspection tour of Mbalano Sub-Station in Isikwuato Local Government of Abia State, among other sub-stations within the south east zone.
Ugwuanyi had shortly before their arrival inaugurated a 12-man committee to handle the issue of the stalled execution of the New Haven to Nsukka NIPP project in the state which has been a source of worry to the state government. Former minister of information, Chief Nnia Nwodo heads the state committee while former minister of power, Prof. Barth Nnaji is among the professionals and high profile personalities that make up the committee.
During the courtesy call at the Government House, chairman of the House Committee, Rt. Hon. Dan Asuquo and the governor underscored the need to clear all hurdles that would militate against the smooth delivery of projects being executed by the Transmission Company of
Nigeria (TCN) whose managing director, Onyeka Uwa, an engineer, was also in the delegation.
Addressing the lawmakers and other members of the delegation who were in Enugu for a public forum on the operations of the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company, (EEDC) the governor commended the federal government for the current noticeable improvement in electricity power supply in parts of the country.
On the conduct of public forum on issues of billing, metering and the various bottlenecks arising from dealing with host communities, the governor stated that the exercise which is part of their oversight function was fundamental in achieving enhanced power supply and the expected spiral effect of improved standard of living for the citizenry.
The governor spoke more on the import of stable power supply: “our struggle as a nation to achieve regular and dependable power supply has been long aborted and I must however, commend the federal government, the National Assembly and of course, the power companies for the noticeable improvement that has been recently observed in the sector.”
Observing that everything that relates to power always commands urgent attention, Governor Ugwuanyi charged the committee members to address without delay complaints and out cries about billing method and other malpractices by some power distribution companies as well as difficulties in accessing power, among other challenges.
Asuquo, chairman of the House committee told the governor that their mission included a public forum where interested members of the public have the opportunity to interact and brainstorm with the House Committee members with a view of proffering lasting solutions to their power challenges.
He said a situation whereby way-leave and compensation were even higher than the cost of a project was discouraging, noting that the issue of way-leave and compensation should be such that “ should encourage government to continue to deliver the projects on these projects to the people”.
“A situation whereby the way-leave and compensation are even higher than the cost of project, it is discouraging. The Government is trying to provide infrastructure for the benefit of the people, so the the issue of way-leave and compensation should be such that will not encourage government to continue to deliver” he stated.
While stressing the need for the the Nigerian Parliament to look into the issues, he expressed dismay that a project that was awarded in 2011 had not been completed because of way-leave and compensation issues that lasted for about 15 years.
He disclosed that they were in the south East Zone of the country to carry out their oversight functions which he said were in line with the rules of the house and details of the constitution, adding that their visit was the beginning of their oversights visits across the country to ensure the appropriation from 2015 till date was being utilized.
“A situation whereby a project that is awarded since 2011 have not been completed because it having way-leave and compensation issues for 15 years, so who is losing, it is the people that would have benefited from it that is losing. It is a critical issue that the Nigerian parliament needs to look into it. We need to involve the state governors, house of assemblies to speak to speak to our people”
Earlier, the Managing Director of Transmission Service Provider (TSP), Engr. Tom Uwah, had told the delegation that the sub-station, expected to generate 48 megawatts could be completed in few months.