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TCN: Manitoba lobbies for contract extension

The Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Limited (MHINL) is making fresh moves to persuade the federal government to renew its management contract for the Transmission Company…

The Manitoba Hydro International Nigeria Limited (MHINL) is making fresh moves to persuade the federal government to renew its management contract for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Daily Trust has learnt.
A document obtained exclusively said “MHINL is pleased with the excellent progress achieved in three and a half years and looks forward to the opportunity to continue its commitment to improving the power supply in Nigeria.”
The company was hired in 2012 to reduce technical and commercial losses of TCN, improve the business process and split the company into the Transmission Service Provider (TSP) and the Independent System Operator (ISO).
Manitoba said it reduced the transmission loss from 13 per cent to eight per cent which has saved the country N35 billion. It said the contract sum of N1.4 billion annually in the last four years is far less than the amount it has saved the country. System collapses also reduced from 22 in 2013 to six in 2015, it said.
Expatriate officials of Manitoba who spoke to our reporter said the contract has ensured the capacity increase of 5,200 megawatts (mw) from the 3,200mw it met in 2012, and the wheeling of 5,074mw in February 2016.
They also said about 700 Nigerian employees had been hired and that it had developed job descriptions and management plans for them. “Under the management of MHINL, is the engagement of PWC auditors to audit the accounts of TCN, for the first time ever, since its inception in 2006,” the document said.
However some local officials at TCN have contrary views about what Manitoba described as ‘excellent progress’ in the company.
Speaking in confidence with Daily Trust last week, they said the National Power Training Institute of Nigeria (NAPTIN) trained many transmission engineers out of which 500 were absorbed into the TCN on the orders of former President Goodluck Jonathan mostly in 2014. They also claimed Manitoba may have recruited other numbers but may not be legal as no recruitment was publicised by them as the procurement law demanded.
It was gathered that the transmission loss reduction to the 8.05 per cent threshold was achieved by the local engineers some who have over 20 years experience working with the defunct NEPA and the unbundled PHCN.
An official said engineers on the field suggested the metering of transmission assets and staff quarters in the various power stations, blocking leakages and illegal industrial connections across Enugu, Lagos and Port Harcourt, adding that such actions by the officials resulted in the loss reduction.
It was claimed that the Manitoba team had changed about 10 members of its management team, some from India, Pakistan and other Asian countries instead of Canada in the short period.
The officials claimed that after the first batch that came in 2012, the others were not fully interviewed for ‘fit and proper’ test in Nigeria, neither were their certificates fully verified by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
It was alleged that a recent acting managing director, Paul Stefisyn, in 2015, was a national diploma equivalent holder, a non-engineer and with no previous work experience in the power sector.
Sources said if government was not satisfied with the contract after an objective review in 2016, it could invoke the Schedule 15 of the term, subsection 15.2, Termination for Default that are not corrected by appointing a provisional liquidator in a proceeding to wind up the contractor after notice to Manitoba and due hearing within 90 days.
Although the Permanent Secretary (Power), Engr. Louis Edozien, declined to comment on the issue, management officials at NERC confirmed that no fit and proper test had been conducted after the initial one when the contract was awarded in 2012.
They refused further public comment on it too, saying it was an issue for the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to handle, but that the commission was strictly monitoring TCN as one of its licensees in the electricity market.
Giving reason why no test has been conducted on the Manitoba officials, an official said it was because some of the expatriates who came in after the pioneer MHINL staff, including Paul Stefisyn, served in acting capacity.
He said since the expatriates were not confirmed for the positions, NERC could not scrutinise their credentials.

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