Fresh hur­dles for N4bn Katsina 10mw wind power …awaits Buhari’s nod for com­ple­tion

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS - By Si­mon Echewo­fun Sun­day & Habibu Umar Aminu, Katsina

Work re­mains stalled at the Katsina 10 megawatts wind power farm at Lam­ber Rimi in Rimi Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Area of the State, with a power min­istry of­fi­cial say­ing a re­port awaits a pres­i­den­tial nod for its com­ple­tion.

The N4.4 bil­lion project was awarded to a French firm, Messrs Vergnet SA in 2010 and was sched­uled for com­ple­tion in 2012, but it has been suf­fer­ing from many twists and turns that made the com­ple­tion date un­achiev­able and stalled progress.

De­spite as­sur­ances of com­ple­tion be­fore May this year and even­tual com­mis­sion­ing by June, 2015, work is yet to con­tinue at the site four months be­hind the new tar­get, as the Daily Trust, which vis­ited the site last week­end ob­served.

Our reporter no­ticed that the wind tur­bines mounted had not ex­ceeded four, as we re­ported in May, out of the slated 37 tur­bines to power the fa­cil­ity. The to­tal tur­bines have a rated power of 275 kilo­watts mounted at a height of 55 me­tres. The un­mounted 33 tur­bines still lay de­cay­ing at the farm.

The project, which was ini­ti­ated by the late Pres­i­dent Umaru Musa Yar’Adua when he was gover­nor of Katsina State, was sub­se­quently taken over by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment af­ter he be­came pres­i­dent in 2007.

About three years ago, the lead con­trac­tor was ab­ducted for a year when the project was about 90 per cent com­ple­tion. Of­fi­cials at the Fed­eral Min­istry of Power said the project would have been com­pleted if the French engi­neer had not been kid­napped.

The then Min­is­ter of State for Power, Hon. Mo­hammed Wakil, in Au­gust, 2014, com­mis­sioned a tech­ni­cal au­dit of the plant, ap­par­ently seek­ing to com­mis­sion the project by last year end. In a state­ment, he said, “The Katsina wind farm will soon be com­mis­sioned as the tech­ni­cal au­dit has com­menced. En­gi­neers were de­ployed to site a week ago.”

Wakil dis­closed that con­struc­tion had been trans­ferred to a Nige­rian firm trained in France af­ter the orig­i­nal con­trac­tors wa­vered fol­low­ing the ab­duc­tion of their lead engi­neer. Former pres­i­dent, Good­luck Jonathan also vis­ited the site in April, 2014 and di­rected that the project be sped up.

Al­though it was not com­mis­sioned last De­cem­ber as planned, Wakil told Daily Trust that the trainees to au­dit the plant were round­ing off their train­ing in France. “It is a mat­ter of test-run­ning it for com­mis­sion. That is part of the agree­ment with the tech­ni­cal con­trac­tors to train our lo­cal peo­ple to take over from them,” he had said.

The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary in the Power Min­istry, Dr God­knows Igali told our reporter in May, 2015 that the suc­cess of the plant will de­ter­mine if wind en­ergy can work in the sa­he­lian part of north­ern Nige­ria.

“We joined an­other com­pany with the orig­i­nal con­trac­tor since the first com­pany re­fused to come back; so an­other com­pany took over the job and it is about 95 per cent com­pleted. What is left is just a few other de­tails of elec­tri­cal ac­tiv­i­ties and test­ing.

“The en­gi­neers are on the fifth tur­bine now for the trial com­mis­sion­ing, out of the 37 wind tur­bines. The con­trac­tor said it should be ready in three weeks, prob­a­bly by the end of June. The trans­mis­sion align­ment by the Trans­mis­sion Com­pany of Nige­ria (TCN) to strengthen the grid has also been com­pleted.

“They are test-run­ning it and power will be fed into the trans­mis­sion line and then stepped down to be used around Katsina town. This is a pi­lot project and when we see that it is suc­cess­ful, we can then do more in the north­ern part where there is much wind,” Igali ex­plained.

Wor­ried about the si­lence that shred­ded the June tar­get, Daily Trust checks showed that the change in ad­min­is­tra­tion dealt an­other set­back to the project as the new gov­ern­ment had to be briefed be­fore tak­ing up ex­ist­ing power projects.

A top of­fi­cial at the min­istry who spoke in con­fi­dence said a let­ter awaits pres­i­den­tial nod for the plant

to be com­pleted and put into use. He ad­mit­ted that with what he called “years of the un­for­tu­nate ne­glect”, ro­dents have tam­pered with the ca­bles, with oil leaks along with other de­fects. “Af­ter the man was res­cued, the con­trac­tors now said they can con­tinue with the project but they would have a tech­ni­cal au­dit of the project to cor­rect the fault de­tected. They just con­cluded the tech­ni­cal au­dit.

“They also started the trial com­mis­sion­ing by mount­ing four or five tur­bines. The trans­mis­sion sec­tion is al­ready com­pleted and the au­dit is ready. We have writ­ten to the Due Process for the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and a let­ter has been writ­ten to the Pres­i­dent for its con­tin­u­a­tion,” the of­fi­cial said.

He dis­closed that the project would be put in the 2016 power bud­get for its com­ple­tion even as its com­ple­tion sta­tus re­mains at 95 per cent. “Ev­ery other equip­ment needed is there. The trans­former that would be op­er­ated for it has come in and is al­ready in Lagos,” he added.

Photo: Habibu Umar Aminu

Some of the wind tur­bines ly­ing fal­low af­ter four were mounted from the 37 units.

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