The Senate Committee on Power yesterday urged the federal government to suspend the bid to concession the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant located in Niger State.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Gabriel Suswam, stated this at an investigative hearing on the ongoing bid to concession the power plant held at the National Assembly, Abuja.
Suswam said the Senate was not opposed to the concession, but was surprised at the “jet speed” the arrangement was taking when the vital infrastructure that would evacuate the generated power had not been completed.
He called on the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, the National Council on Privatization and its Secretariat, the Bureau of Public Enterprises and other MDAs involved in the proposed concession of the ZHPP to suspend it until necessary infrastructure were put in place to avoid the pitfall of similar exercise in the past.
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Also, Senate President Ahmad Lawan said there was the need for extreme caution in the concessioning of the remaining government-owned power assets including the ZHPP to avert the transfer of unresolved liabilities and future third-party claims to the government.
“Available data indicates that between 2015 and 2022 alone, the Nigerian national grid collapsed 98 times. This immediately brings to question whether the power to be generated from the ZHPP upon commencement of operation will be successfully and fully evacuated and if not, what will be the implication on the capacity of the Concessionaire to meet its obligations,” he said.
Lawan said the probe of the proposed concession of the Zungeru power plant was to ensure ‘value for money’ bearing in mind huge external loans and annual budgetary releases expended on its construction.