19 September 2014, Abuja – The ongoing strike by members of the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation branches may result in nationwide power outage as major power stations have been cut off from gas supply.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, confirmed this in Abuja on Thursday while speaking on the effect of the workers’ strike on gas supply to the power plants, according to a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Kande Daniel.
The strike has also resulted in long queues of motorists at filling stations in some parts of Abuja.
Nebo observed that the action taken by members of NUPENG and PENGASSAN in the course of their ongoing strike had cut off gas supply to major power stations, including Egbin, AES, Olorunsogo, Geregu and Sapele.
The NNPC branches of NUPENG and PENGASSAN had on Tuesday embarked on a strike because of the cancellation of the closed pension system for the workers by the management of the corporation.
The unions also claimed that the management of the NNPC had also refused to fund contributions to the scheme, which they said remained the workers’ legacy pension plan.
Nebo called on the workers to call off the industrial action.
He regretted the adverse effect of the strike on power supply at a time he claimed the government had recorded substantial progress in solving the gas problem, thereby raising peak generation in recent weeks to an average of 4,500 megawatts, with a spinning reserve of about 300MW.
According to him, reports from across the country have indicated noticeable improvement in the quantity and quality of power supply to homes and businesses.
He, therefore, decried the current setback arising from the workers’ action, which he said had curtailed supply of gas to power stations and reduced power generation.
This has inevitably led to a drastic reduction in power supply across the country, he added.
The minister gave an assurance that efforts were on to ensure a speedy and amicable resolution of the matter, and appealed for the understanding of electricity consumers affected by the development.
While appreciating the concerns and fears of the workers, Nebo appealed to members of NUPENG and PENGASSAN to take into consideration the damaging socio-economic effect of their action on the nation and thereby return to work.
Nebo, who also inspected Apo substation where a weather-induced explosion occurred during the week, assessed the extent of damage and was assured by the Transmission Company of Nigeria’s engineers that efforts were on to restore supply to parts of Abuja affected by the incident.
He said the results of government’s efforts to effect a significant improvement in power supply would become even more evident in the coming weeks.
The minister emphasised that the cause of fire that gutted the facility was nature-induced from lightening sparks.
He dismissed the insinuation that the accident could have been an attack or sabotage.
The Group General Manager, Public Affairs, NNPC, Mr. Ohi Alegbe, attributed the queues to the strike embarked upon by the oil workers but gave an assurance that the matter would soon be resolved.
“There is no fuel scarcity. It is an internal problem that has resulted in the queues in some filling stations. Even if PPMC workers decided to join the strike, there are independent marketers to bridge the gap. There is no need to panic.”
Alegbe added that the issues would soon be resolved.
– The Punch