The Nigeran government on Tuesday in Abuja said the Zungeru and Kashimbila Hydropower projects would be ready by December 2021 to boost the power supply in the country.
Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, gave the cheery news when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Power, chaired by Senator Gabriel Suswan (PDP Benue North East), to defend his ministry’s 2022 budget estimates
Aliyu, however, explained that lack of adequate rainfall this year to power the turbines of the important hydropower project could prevent it from supplying the projected 700 megawatts of electricity after its inauguration.
He added that the growing security challenges in Niger State could prevent the inauguration of the multi-billion naira power project when completed in December, explaining that the workers who would operate it could only relocate to the site and live there if their security were guaranteed.
The minister, nevertheless, said the 40 megawatts Kashimbila power project would start operation after its inauguration in the second week of December.
He said the federal government had paid the N10 billion owed contractors and that everything was in place for the take-off of the project.
Aliyu, however, disclosed that the Mambilla power project was stalled because of legal issues which the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami were currently handling.
He said: “The problem with the take-off of the Mambilla power project is the legal issues surrounding it which the Minister of Justice is currently handling. It is only the Minister of Justice that can speak on such high profile legal cases.
“We have scheduled the Zungeru hydropower project for inauguration in December 2021. We have met with the contractors recently and they are looking at December.
“Perhaps the inauguration could be extended to one or two months into 2022. I, however, told them that we would stick to the December deadline. So, we are still working with the December deadline.
“We have challenges of security. They needed certain numbers of security personnel, but they are only able to get half of the number they needed.
“They wanted the military to complement the shortfall so that the workers can stay and work on shifts and sleep there. As of now, the workers are not there because of insecurity.
“Another challenge is that we don’t have the minimum amount of water to power the turbines because there was no adequate rainfall this year and the hydro dam needs flood to come up and fill up the reservoir. There is a minimum level of water needed to turn the turbines.”
The minister nevertheless said the ministry in collaboration with the relevant government agencies, was working hard to address the challenges.
The Zungeru hydropower project is a 700MW hydroelectric facility being built with the assistance of the government of China on the upper and middle reaches of Kaduna River in Niger State.
The Kashimbila multipurpose dam project was initially designed with an installed capacity of 18MW, however, following the detailed hydrological modelling and yield analysis carried out by Aurecon, a 40MW installed capacity was recommended and implemented.
The multipurpose dam would also have the capacity to generate electricity and a water treatment plant capable of supplying 60,000 meters of water to about 400,000 irrigation facilities of about 2,000 hectares and an airstrip.
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