The Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), managers of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs), has started evaluating its electricity transmission projects in the eastern axis of the country.
This, the agency said, was part of efforts to recover more than 800 megawatts (mw) of electricity generated but stranded in some of its power plants within the supply loop.
The new effort is aimed at sorting out extant holdbacks to the projects’ completion timeline and wheeling of generated electricity from power plants in the axis, which are said to now generate but cannot wheel out their outputs to the national grid.
Delays in completion of the almost 200 kilometres eastern transmission loop stretching from Ikot Ekpene in Akwa Ibom State to Ugwuaji in Enugu State for almost two years has resulted in such supply shut in, as well as project cost overrun.
Officials of NDPHC said there were about 45 instances of sabotage on its transmission projects on the eastern axis in the form of repeated community and institutional encroachments on transmission rights of way (RoW), as well as court orders stopping their contractors from going ahead with work.
The transmission lines run along Egbema, a border town between Imo and Rivers states and should evacuate power generated from the 330mw Egbema and 563mw Calabar power plants in Odukpani.
Albert Okorogu, NDPHC’s executive director for networks, explained that: “we have issues of power outage. In a country of over 180 million people, we barely generate 4,000mw and practically, most cities are left in the dark. The story out there is that government is not doing enough to provide electricity but these powers are stranded in many generation plants with people frustrating its evacuation and distribution to the nation.”
He further commented on the acts of sabotage on the transmission projects adding that, “we have a lot of stranded power in the completed stations but we need to evacuate them to the grid through the transmission stations. If these facilities are continually hacked down, how then does power get to Nigerians even there is over 6,000mw capacity to generate power.”
Moving through the 330 kilovoltage (kV) transmission line that connects 330mw Egbema plant around Ohaji in Imo State with Port Harcourt and Owerri, it was however observed that new structures were constantly being erected right under transmission lines by communities to demand for compensation from NDPHC despite claims by the NDPHC that it had initially made compensation payments to affected communities and individuals before starting the projects.
More so, some of the 330kV transmission towers were reportedly hacked down by citizens whom NDPHC officials said were being mobilized by elite members of the communities.
They identified one of such cases that involved a renowned medical doctor who mobilized youths in a community along Egbema to hack down a transmission tower weighing about 30 tonnes with a generator and steel saw for alleged inadequate compensation for the RoW.
At the Enugu–Ikot Ekpene line that connects the completed 563mw Calabar plant in Odukpani, pockets of uncompleted structures were also erected along the transmission RoW deep into bushes and farmlands that were given out to NDPHC by communities to erect transmission lines.
In his brief on the RoW, Ben Iruoha, NDPHC’s director for environment, said: “To allow construction of transmission lines, we had to create a corridor of RoW to build the two level transmission lines of 330kV and 132kV voltage levels with 50 metres and 30 metres space requiring the acquisition of land and due payment of compensation. We had gone through these processes sometimes more than twice due to legal constraints especially along the Port Harcourt, Egbema, Ikot Ekpene, Owerri axis where people go to get court injunctions to stop our nearly completed facilities for not paying them enough compensations or for us to pay them another round,” he added.
The official said in some cases, the state governments who are part of the process of allocating the places and overseeing the NIPPs compensation reallocate those areas especially those in the urban centres to individuals. “These encroachments and court injunctions have delayed transmission facilities that have caused stranded electricity supply in recent times especially from the 330mw Egbema NIPP, the Afam Power in Port Harcourt and 563mw Calabar plant in Odukpani,” Iruoha said.
He further noted that some of these projects should have been completed two years ago before the power plants were completed and ready for firing.

Maureen Nzeogu
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