How litigation stalled $5.6b Mambilla power project

Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, yesterday, in Abuja, said the ongoing legal battle with a former contractor of the $5.5 billion Mambilla Hydro Electric Power Project, Sunrise, encumbered further development of the plant.

In limbo for over 40 years, the 3,050MW hydroelectric plant, which was supposed to be the largest power-generating installation in Nigeria, has been facing challenges.

March last year, Mamman linked the delay in its development to same legal bottleneck, while promising that the project would begin in 2021, but the implementation remained a mirage.

The Ministry of Power headed by Mamman had similarly disclosed that about N700 million was disbursed for the survey of the project. During a visit by the Chinese firm handling the project, with the Vice President of China Gezhouba Group International Engineering Company, Yuan Baoy, in tow, the minister said alternative dispute technique was being deployed to address the issue.

According to him, despite the challenges in the implementation, efforts towards delivery were at no point relaxed since the Federal Government decided to resuscitate the project.

Mamman said the ongoing litigation with the former contractor, Sunrise, was a key inhibitor to execution.

“At this juncture, the government is in the process of finalising settlement terms leading to an amicable arbitration, so that the project can take off in earnest.

“Concurrently, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to review the progress so far and carry out value engineering of the project in pursuit of optimised implementation and delivery,” he said.

Chairman of the Project Delivery Committee (PDC), Faruk Yabo, said the ministry had committed N200 million to the training of junior and mid-level artisans, ensuring the availability of manpower for the project. The artisans include electricians, plumbers, masons, drivers and cooks.

He noted the ministry’s desire to follow through on smooth uninterrupted implementation.

“Once the project starts, there is no stopping,” he stressed. “Three important issues, which may threaten the smooth execution of the project, have been prioritised for special attention, including financial viability and sustainability, land acquisition and arbitration, to free the project from any encumbrances.”

Yabo further disclosed that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) had reached an understanding with Sunrise, and that an amount had also been agreed on, pointing out that the settlement might have been delayed by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

Earlier, Baoyi had assured that his company was ready to mobilise, once all issues regarding financing, land acquisition and arbitration were settled. (Guardian)

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