Stakeholders’ reactions have trailed the claims by the Nigerian Government linking persistent grid collapse and power outages to encroachment into the Right of Way (RoW) by some communities along the electricity transmission corridors.
Engr. Abubakar Aliyu, the Power Minister, had on Tuesday during a power dialogue with stakeholders in Abuja, claimed that the Transmission Company of Nigeria(TCN) has been unable to complete several transmission line projects earmarked for execution, because communities around the transmission corridors are making unending demand for compensations.
The Minister particularly cited the discontinuation of construction works on the 330kv Benin North-Oshogbo Transmission Line, revealing that the project has been stalled because host communities along the route disallowed contractors to complete their work.
He had stated that the Ministry would engage the state governors to collaborate on how to remove policy barriers affecting the easy approval of RoW.
“The government is taking inventory of all the right-of-way challenges nationwide in order to engage state governors,” he had promised.
The Minister noted that there is the need to give urgent attention to the transmission projects in the country to permanently address the issue of capacity expansion associated with the TCN’s network.
This, according to him, will strengthen the grid for optimal performance and boost supply of power to the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).
RoW POLICY GUIDELINES
EnergyDay’s check has identified the Resettlement Action Project(RAP) policy of the World Bank as the guiding principle to assist the Nigerian Government in implementing RoW. Investigation revealed that there is clearly lack of cohension between the various agencies responsible for the implementation of World Bank’s Involuntary Resettlement Policy guideline and the operations manual derived Federal laws together with the TCN’s policy position.
Some of the national and international legal and regulatory frameworks relevant to RoW in Nigeria for RAP and Project-Affected Person (PAP) obtained by EnergyDay, includes; Nigeria Land Use Act of 1978, reviewed under Cap 202 of 1990 (legislation); Resettlement Policy Framework for Nigeria Electricity and Power Improvement Project (NEGIP).
Others are the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) Draft Regulation Acquisition of Land and Access Rights for Power Projects in Nigeria Electricity Supply Regulations of 1966 and the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act, 2005;
World Bank safeguard policies are hinged on the relevant framework contained in the operational policy concerning Involuntary resettlement adopted in 2001.
Reacting to the challenge which has been identified as one of the major factors responsible for the inability of the government to fully optimise the transmission network, stakeholders urged the Federal Government to remove the bottlenecks relating to the current RoW and further address the compensation impasse.
According to them several abandoned independent power projects (IPPs) including stranded transmission substations, across the country have not been able to be energised and connected to the grid system due to some of these bottlenecks.
They insisted that Nigeria has continued to battle power transmission challenges, with frequent disruptions in power supply to consumers across the country due to grid failures.
They however noted that the excuse presented by the Federal Government is not enough reason to abandon power projects, insisting that the Minister of Power should do more than apportioning blame.
Dr Godwin Orovwiroro, MD/CEO of of Winman Nigeria Limited and former Regional Head, Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHED), in a recent chat with EnergyDay, stressed that the excuse given by the Government is not a justifiable reason for the discontinuation of power projects in the country.
Dr. Orovwiroro noted that the issue of right of way should have been factored in the development plan, even before the commencement of the project. He advised the Government to push further on obtaining RoWs for the continuation of the abandoned projects, following due processes which includes proper compensation of the host communities.
“Again these are excuses. A component of transmission projects is right of way acquisition that involve compensation for economic trees and resettlement programs which are usually identified during stakeholder mapping and engagements. “If the proper procedures were adhered to, the issue will not arise. Let the right things be done,” he said.
Mr Andrew Johnson, energy industry expert and Project Manager, Senior at Oskajo & Partners Ltd, who shared a similar view with Dr.Orovwiroro told EnergyDay that the problem of the Nigerian power sector cannot be limited to the RoW challenge of uncompleted power projects because there several other transmission lines that can serve as alternatives for power supply.
He pointed out that gas challenges at the generation plants is the major cause of frequent technical faults on the power grid. This can be traced to the inability of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) to settle outstanding invoices for electricity generated.
Johnson explained that the sudden shut down of operations by the GenCos due to insufficient gas supply to their plants usually affects the grid.
“The 330kv Benin North-Oshogbo Transmission Line can’t be what is affecting the nation. At best it could have been isolated and the alternate Ajaokuta artery or Benin South Transmission lines used.”Yes, I agree that the transmission line can be a contributing factor, but at the heart of it all is the gas supply to the GenCos. That is the issue leading to grid collapse.
“Gencos are shutting down their plants without notice to the Osogbo control center, therefore making it difficult to plan for load shedding and outages.”But the Benin North-Osogbo Transmission Line the Minister mentioned is a green field project. It is not about reconductoring. So, what happened to the old line that has been in use since the commissioning of Sapele and Ughelli GenCo?” he said.
He added that some persons are frustrating the Government’s effort to continue with the projects for personal gains. “However the saboteurs in the system also engineer the communities, the Project-Affected Persons (PAPs) along the RoW so as to collect money from the system,” he said.