For 44 years, successive governments failed to act right on Kainji
Successive Nigerian governments abandoned Nigeria’s main power generating plant, the Kainji Hydro-electric Plant, causing its deterioration and under-utilization, an official has said.
For 44 years, Kainji, which has eight units of power plants, and an installed capacity of 760 megawatts, was abandoned, with only one unit overhauled within that period, Reuben Akinwunmi, the Chief Executive Officer of the plant said.
In the period since Kainji’s abandonment, Nigeria has been ruled by various civilian and military rulers including Olusegun Obasanjo, Ibrahim Babangida, and Abdusalam Abubakar. The abandonment of Kainji, built between 1964 and 1968, has led to the plant generating only 250 megawatts of tits installed capacity.
Mr. Akinwumi, who spoke on Saturday when the National Good Governance Tour team visited the plant, said out of the four sets of machines installed at the power plant, two are not functional while the remaining two operate far below installed capacity.
The revelations by the plant boss, explains the belief among many Nigerians that successive governments have not been serious about their clamour for improved power supply.
Hope not lost
While stating that the current administration had shown interest in making the plant work optimally, Mr. Akinwunmi said a loan of $81 million has been secured from the World Bank to overhaul the power generating units.
He said under the project, work on the first phase comprising overhaul of 3 units commenced in May 2012 and is expected to restore 220 megawatts of electricity when completed.
The Chief Executive Officer stated that at the end of work on the second phase, which is expected in the last quarter of 2014, the installed capacity of 760 megawatts would be restored.
In what appears a show of concern at the underutilization of Kainji, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, who led the tour team, placed a phone call to his counterpart in the Ministry of Power, Darius Ishaku.
Mr. Ishaku explained that the Power Ministry had opened bid to concession the plant to private investors. He said part of the condition for the concession was that the concessionaire would install four turbines in the open pits that are lying fallow to fully harness the potential of the Kainji Hydro-power Plant.
Mr. Maku said Kainji Dam was a sad story of neglect which is unacceptable under the present administration. He said President Goodluck Jonathan is set to reverse the trend by investing in the power plant to restore its full capacity.
Shiroro good news
Unlike Kainji, the Shiroro Hydro-electric power plant is operating at full capacity by generating its installed capacity of 600 megawatts of electricity daily, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the plant, Ugochukwu Chioke, who received the Good Governance Tour team, stated.
Mr. Chioke also said the plant has signed a contract for the overhaul of its two generating units as part of routine maintenance to sustain power supply at the installed capacity of 600 megawatts.
The generating plant boss said the overhaul of two out of the four generating units was carried out in March this year, while work would soon commence on the remaining two units in keeping with periodic maintenance culture, which takes place every five years.
Mr. Chioke, an Electrical Engineer, said each of the four generating units at Shiroro operates at installed capacity of 150 megawatts at the moment.
It’s the rains
The Shiroro boss said that when the volume of water at the Shiroro Dam reaches its peak between August and December every year, the four generating units operate simultaneously to generate 600 megawatts of electricity. But under normal circumstances, two of the units run at the installed capacity of 300 megawatts, to give room for routine maintenance.
He added that when there is system failure in the power grid, the four generating units become active to augment the shortfall in power supply in the country.
Mr. Chioke remarked that the Shiroro Hydro-electric plc currently provides two lines of 230 KV each for Jebba, Kaduna and Abuja. He expressed delight that the power plant, which was commissioned in 1990, is operated and maintained by Nigerian engineers and technicians.
Mr. Maku said Shiroro Hydro-electric Plc is an example of efficiency as well as good maintenance culture and urged the workers to keep it up.
He observed that the neatness of the plant created a good impression about the seriousness of the management and staff to operate the plant at installed capacity.
Also speaking, the President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Mohammed Garba, said he was impressed by what he saw at Shiroro especially the sustenance of its installed capacity of 600 megawatts for 22 years.