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Between vandalism and yearning for uninterrupted power supply

By Yusuf Olaofe
10 February 2015   |   11:00 pm
FOR a long time now, Nigerians have been yearning for improved power supply.    While efforts are being made by subsistent governments to meet this all important demand, one of the major snags to power supply has been the uncomplimentary activities of vandals across the country.      For instance, the Minister of Power, Prof.…

FOR a long time now, Nigerians have been yearning for improved power supply.    While efforts are being made by subsistent governments to meet this all important demand, one of the major snags to power supply has been the uncomplimentary activities of vandals across the country.

     For instance, the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo recently said that the country has lost about 2,100 megawatts of electricity in past few months as a result of vandalism of gas pipelines.

  Also the ministry of power in a statement, February, 2014, said that so many gas facilities were vandalised. Some of them include; the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline ELPS A, from Warri which supplies gas to Egbin Power Plant near Lagos was out for over seven months.

  A loss of 200 million standard cubic feet of gas and generation capacity of about 800MW was recorded. Second, the Trans-Forcados gas line also in Warri was out with a loss of 200 million standard cubic feet of gas and generation capacity of about 800MW.

  Then the Alakiri – Onne, Gas pipeline was blasted and it has adversely impacted on gas supply to generation stations. Fourth, there have been similar attacks on the Trans Niger Pipeline TNP,  Gbaran-Ubie power plant in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, which is part of the gas liquid evacuation infrastructure, critical for continued domestic power generation for Afam VI Independent power plant. 

   Also, the temporary shutdown of the Chevron gas plant west of the Sombreiro River, Ahoada East Local Government Area of Rivers State on March 12, 2014 contributed to the low peak generation of 2,672MW. The lists of damages caused by the unscrupulous elements in the society are endless.

  Recently, Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo said that President Goodluck Jonathan’s policies on power reform and the need to get rid of the menace of vandalism are issues critical to Nigeria’s quest for stable power supply.

  Dwelling on the twin issues at the weekend, Nebo stated that Nigerians would have enjoyed much more stable power supply, if the activities of vandals blowing up pipelines had not increased in recent times.

   In the first week of January, shortly after most parts of the country celebrated the yuletide with stable power which drew a lot of praises for the Government, vandals struck again, twice, by bursting at many points the main pipelines supplying gas to power stations; this resulted in a steep drop in generation and by extension, the quantity of power available on the national grid. Shortly after repairs were effected, another major incident was recorded on the Trans Forcados pipeline on January 17, resulting in a shutdown of all oil and gas production into this pipeline.

  Decrying the situation, which he said had become a trend for a long time now, Nebo said the Federal Government was taking measures on including installing electronic gadgets to track down the unwholesome elements at the point of perpetrating their illicit acts.

  The Minister who also spoke of the President’s passion to give Nigeria uninterrupted power said that the sector would suffer seriously if the well-laid out policies were  disrupted at this time adding that Nigerians must therefore make the choice of staying on course by giving the President maximum support in this regard, or rubbish the gains already recorded.

  Nebo observed that lack of adequate planning expected to evolve sound working policies by previous administrations brought about setbacks which culminated in the slow progress in the nation’s generating capacity.

  While recalling how President Goodluck Jonathan-led government increased the country’s generating capacity to over 4500mw in few years, he stressed that introduction of renewable energy especiallySolar Power system has lightened up some rural communities with a calculated plan to connect the rest within the shortest possible time.

  According to him, “Continuity is very essential and critical because it won’t encourage policy summersault. We are now on a trajectory and we hope to consolidate that trajectory. We need the media to spread the information on why our People should make use of energy saving bulbs to conserve voltage.”

  Setting the agenda for the future he said: “I see a Nigeria where   Hospitals, Schools, households in far villages that never thought of having electricity because the national grid cannot get to them, are connected to electricity via renewable energy and lighted up.

  “Most of Nigerians who live in rural areas don’t have access to electricity because they were marginalized. And so, instead of them making use of electricity to cook and do other things electricity could do for them. 

The fumes from various cooking materials cause damages to their respiratory systems and even their eyes are damaged just because they have no access to electricity.

  “The cost of taking electricity to them is huge. But with Governments new renewable energy mix which is sustainable and durable with incredible potential for rural communities, the health and living standard of the people will greatly improve, coupled with provision of substantial power for industries.”

  He blamed inadequate education and cost factor for delays in embracing renewable energy in the country in the past. “Initially the cost and lack of knowledge, It’s part of the psyche of our people that renewable energy is too expensive but that is not true’’.

  “Currently, there has been a drop in the price of solar. So, it’s beginning to get more and more attractive. We didn’t have a policy for renewable energy, we have developed one now.

  “We are trying to do all that, at the same time educating our People so that they will see the potentials and viability of renewables in the hinterland. Let them see the potential; this will positively affect their standard of living,” he said.

  He added that efforts were being made to bridge the gap. 

  His words: “The ministry is working out modalities that will convince People to invest in renewables. Secondly, to demonstrate that this is possible. We did that successfully in Shappe, Durumi and Waru where we gave them 24 hours solar power supply.

  “Within the next four years, we want to multiply power generation and make sure that every community has seen how it works. Renewable is the key to access inclusive power supply that will go round within the communities. The government of President Goodluck Jonathan has done a lot in ensuring improved power supply.

  “When he came on board, Nigeria was barely generating 2300 Megawatts.MW. Today, we are generating over 4000MW. Within the past four years, I can say that Nigerians have been much better off as regards power supply.”

  He added: “Most of our power supply in Nigeria is based on Gas with about 70 percent Gas-fired turbine and 30 per cent hydro. As we put together this holistic energy mix, things will get much better. Oil thieves, vandals who break into our Pipelines make it difficult for Nigerians to even benefit from what this government has done.”

Mr Yusuf is an Abuja-based writer and energy analyst.