The weather in Nigeria has been quite hot the past few days and to make matter worse there is barely any power supply. The best regions with ‘good’ power supply can only boast of electricity every 2 – 3 days. This has been heart rending and worrisome for Nigerians and they are beginning to vent their unhappiness over social media.
In light of this issue the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, explains that it is as a result of low power generation and instability of the National Grid. Nigeria at the moment is currently generating less than 3000 megawatts of electricity and as a safety feature of the National Grid, it shuts itself off and on.
The Minister said “It is like in your house when you have surges and your circuit breakers trip to protect the system”. He further went to state that “So once it falls below a certain threshold you then have those trip offs. They are in a sense almost necessary to protect the entire system, so what then happens is start-ups; we do black starts from various power plants”
The low power generation is as a result of attacks on oil facilities in the Niger delta region. This was said by Mr. Fashola when he addressed journalist just after the meeting of Federal Executive Council in Abuja. “the Escravos Lagos pipeline is not operational, the Forcados export terminal too has been out of operation, so if you can’t produce oil you can’t take the gas”. He also added “The gas is the fuel that the power plants need. You have seen what we have been doing in increasing the capacity in firing transmission but if we don’t have fuel to fire the plants, that is the reason,”
He stated that in addition to gas not being available, there have been fire incidents in some power plants. In the Minister’s words “While we were trying to start last week, we had a fire in Afam and that affected the control room and these are normal engineering accidents that can happen, the mechanical parts can break down, we also had another fire in Kainji. We have tried to repair them over the last weekend while negotiations with the gas companies are ongoing”.
“As I continue to say, it is not technical but financial; vandalism of pipelines is not technical, people are destroying, they are hungry. Until we resolve these behavioural issues: people collect money, are they remitting everything in a manner that is fair, even if it is not enough;, some people hold up their own share and they ask themselves ‘why should we continue to supply if we can’t get paid because there are bankers and financiers? So we are talking with everybody trying to resolve it”.
“As at yesterday we were back to 2900 (megawatts), so we are building up back again and very soon you will see some stability. These are set backs on the road to incremental power but we will overcome them,”