28 November 2013, Lagos – NEARLY a month after new owners took over the assets of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, electric power supply has remained irregular and, in some areas, worsened.
Several reasons, according to investigations, are being adduced for the power situation in the country.
While it was gathered that gas supply to power plants has been cut off since weekend due to debts, it was equally discovered that the power sector since the massive and indiscriminate sack of the defunct PHCN workers, had been grappling with shortage of manpower.
It was gathered that power supply had dipped by 450 MW, from the peak generation of 4,500Mw as a result of alleged unpaid gas fees to Nigerian Gas Company, NGC.
Similarly, investigations revealed that the morale of workers re-engaged by the new owners on a six-month contract was very low because over 7,000 of their former colleagues sacked after the hand-over on November 1 were yet to be paid their terminal benefits.
It was also reported that about 30,000 of the sacked and re-engaged staff received part payment of their severance benefits.
‘Not enough hands’
A staff re-engaged as a marketer told Vanguard yesterday that the sector was presently short of competent hands.
The marketer said: “I can tell you that we do not have enough hands competent to handle transformers and other technical requirements to keep the plants afloat.
“The problem we are facing is that the new owners are more interested in how to make quick profits. Majority of those re-engaged are marketers.
“It is obvious that the new owners lack the competence to run power plants. Because of the hurry to sack workers, they threw caution to the wind and indiscriminately sacked most of those that can handle plants and transformers.
“Ordinarily, they ought to work with the staff for at least six months within which they would know the competent and experienced personnel to retain.
“As we speak, when there are multiple reports of break down or faults, we do not have enough personnel to deploy to effect repairs.
However, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, said drop in power supply occurred between November 23 and 26 due to reported vandalism of gas pipeline supplying gas to Okpai Power Plant in Delta State, resulting in the shutdown of the power station and unavoidable power rationing nationwide.
General Manager (Public Affairs) of TCN, Mrs. Seun Olagunju, said the repair of the vandalised gas pipeline had been done on Monday, but admitted that it would take a while for power supply to stabilise in the country.
She said: “There will be about 450Mw reduction in electricity generation due to reported vandalism of gas pipeline supplying gas to Okpai Power Plant in Delta State, resulting in the shutdown of the power station and an unavoidable power rationing nationwide.
“TCN is reliably informed that repair work is expected be completed within three days and the power plant will expectedly resume generation today (yesterday).
“TCN regrets the inconveniences to the Federal Government and our highly esteemed electricity consumers nationwide and enjoined members of the public to work with the government in protecting installations and facilities meant for our social-economic development