Violence against contractors hampers electrification goal – Nnaji

*Govt vows to by-pass stubborn communities in provision of power

Oscarline Onwuemenyi

21 December 2011, Sweetcrude, ABUJA – The Federal Government has vowed to by pass any community whose interferences have retarded the pace of work in electrification programme throughout the country.

It also warned that the realization of the electric power mandate of the present Administration has a timeline and that the sacking of the sector’s contractors from sites by some communities was unacceptable to the present government.

The Nigerian Power Ministry, Professor Bart Nnaji made the observation while reviewing the pace and progress of activities in the sector with the Chief Executives of the Generating Companies of Nigeria (GENCOS) in his office.

GENCOS are Companies that generate the electricity which the zonal Distribution Companies (DISCOS) distribute to consumers.

In response to the Minister’s quest for station-by-station situation reports, most of the CEOs observed that one of their pressing challenges was the Community interferences on site with some of them sacking contracting firms and their workers thereby slowing down the transformational train of the sector.

Nnaji then hinted that it was in order to meet the timeline set for the conclusion of the Sector Reform that the Government adequately compensated communities whose land would be affected by the project but regretted that even after compensations had been made, some dissident groups turn back to ask for more and obstruct progress of work.

“Government does not work that way” Nnaji directed that such communities should henceforth be bye-passed in the electrification programme if they did not put a stop to their intransigence.

He drew the attention of such communities to the benefits they would derive in allowing the power projects to go on smoothly pointing out that apart from allocation of transformers, contracting firms offer jobs to some of the sons and daughters.

The Minister directed the CEOs to pay the 50% wage increase to their staff if their staff biometric data capturing had been successfully concluded.

He encouraged the CEOs to remain dutiful and treat as sabotage staff who forward wrong data to the National Control Centre (NCC) against what is on ground and directed that all reports generated by the zones henceforth should be counter signed by the CEO.

Prof. Nnaji disclosed that the attention of government had been drawn to some Business Managers who manipulated lists of staff on emolument and other entitlements and backdated their records in order to milk the system and directed that the CEOs would be held responsible for lapses leading to such losses by the government.

The Chief Executives had individually briefed the Minister on their progress expectations and challenges which boiled down to lack of adequate funds to replace aged and obsolete components.

The CEO Kainji, Engr. Yinka Akinwumi pointedly reported of the low water level of Kainji which not only hamper maximum generation by the turbines, but also automatically disables Jebba hydro power station.

Nnaji conveyed Mr. President’s words of encouragement that the CEOs should ensure that they “did not fall below where they are now, as all eyes are on you. You must be sensitive to National aspiration and trust on your abilities to sustain the current progress.”

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