Senate wants suspension of planned concession of Zungeru hydroelectric plant

Senate wants suspension of planned concession of Zungeru hydroelectric plant

By Kingsley Okoye, Abuja.

 

The Senate has called on the National Council on Privatization and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) to suspend the planned concession of 700 Megawatts (MW) Zungeru hydroelectric power plant in Niger.

 

The Senate made the call, following the adoption of a motion by Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue) and Sen. Abdullahi Yahaya (PDP-Kebbi) at Wednesday’s plenary.

 

Presenting the motion tagged “The need for Senate intervention in the ongoing bid to concession Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant in Niger”, Abubakar said that the plant was the second largest hydroelectric plant in Nigeria, after Kanji Hydro Power Plant.

 

He said that the contract was originally awarded in 2013 in the sum of 1.3 billion dollars.

 

He said that apart from the huge loan secured by Federal Government from Exim Bank to fund the construction, the National Assembly had, since the commencement of construction work on the plant, approved billions of naira for the project annually.

 

He said that over N43 billion was allocated to the project in the 2022 Budget and another N76.5 billion was proposed for it by the executive in the 2023 Budget.

 

Abubakar said that the project was expected to have been completed, within 60 months from date of award of contract in 2013, but several factors had thwarted the speedy completion of the project.

 

He said that the Senate’s intervention was based on the need to ensure accountability for the huge annual budgetary allocations made for the project over the years, especially on the issue of managing unsettled external loans tied to the project.

 

He said there was the need to establish whether the proposed concession of Zungeru plant would ensure that government got the deserved value for funds expended, while community-related issues would not arise.

 

The Senate, in its resolution, mandated its Committee on Power to investigate the circumstances and conditions under which the Zungeru power plant was to be concessioned.

 

It also authorised the committee to investigate the completion level of the project, the management of external loans from Chinese Exim Bank for the project and the fate of unsettled host communities where the project was sited.

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