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NEPA’s Wrong Approach To The Nation’s Power Problem


NEPA's Wrong Approach To The Nation's Power Problem

By
Adeyinka Akande



The importance of energy supply cannot be over emphasized in the development of any nation. Regular supply of energy that is adequate for the to day activities in a nation plays a very important role in the life of the residents and the development activities of that nation. Some of the main determinants of industrial development in a nation are power supply, logistics facilities {which include availability of materials, good road network, favourable and effective freighting system, etc}, host community, market forces, government policies, etc. I will concentrate on power supply, which unarguably affects our nation's development and low-income residents in the country.

In Nigeria, the major source of energy supply to power our facilities is electricity and NEPA is solely charged with the responsibilities of generating and distributing regular electricity to these facilities. Some multinational companies that were able to project far enough knew before now that our NEPA would fail in rendering this service to the nation and had their turbine plants installed for regular power supply to their facilities or as backup to NEPA supply. Others that could not afford the cost of installation and running of turbine power plants rely on power packs (electricity generating machines) as backup. The situation with NEPA is so bad now that even the residents that cannot afford electricity generator are squeezing themselves to raise money to buy these machines of various capacities and makes depending on what they can afford, to generate electricity for their own comforts. In recent years, Nigerians would have preferred to run power generator on a 24 hours basis to using it as a backup to NEPA supply if not for the cost of running it. I belief that Nigerian market is now a boom to electricity generator manufactures all over the world.

From 1983 to date, NEPA has achieved practically nothing in the area of power generation and distribution and its facilities degrade with time because of poor maintenance plan and lack of adequate plan for future expansion.

As a matter of fact, NEPA needs to first of all work on its existing facilities to ensure 85% to 95% efficiency before embarking on installation of new plants. The existing energy generating facilities for NEPA have the capacity to generate more than what they generate presently, ensuring that these facilities generate up to the designed capacities should be a first issue of concern to NEPA. The N24.8b received recently by NEPA for installation of new power plants would have gone to maintenance of the old ones. Generally Nigerians need to improve on our maintenance culture. Maintenance entails a lot and goes beyond using chisels and hammers to beat and damage structures. Training of the right personnel for the right job, having executable plans in place, proper execution, checks and review of the existing plans are all part of maintenance. Also, occupational health, safety of the personnel and the environment, good salaries etc go a long way in giving the personnel the right sense of belonging to any system for growth and sustainability of such system. Are there executable training programs in place for NEPA personnel? And if so are the right personnel been selected and sent for training? In a situation where an overseas training program designed for technicians are been attended by managers and when need arises to use the skill acquired during the training, the technicians will not know what to do because they did not go on training and the managers will not be available to do the work. These are trainings that might have cost a lot of money. This is the kind of thing that go on in the Nigerian system and is killing the system. Issues that have to do with maintenance have to be properly reviewed by the management of the National Electric Power Authority for better results.

Energy distribution facility upgrade has been completely neglected by NEPA. Communities now contribute money to buy transformer and replace power cables. Correction of this aspect of the problem cannot be solely handled by NEPA, our Town Planning Authorities are expected to be in total control of the developments that take place in the country and expected to have executable plans in place for developments. Information from Town Planning Authority to NEPA is very important as this forms the basis for what plan NEPA should have in place for an area. The existing NEPA facilities in use in my local government in late 70s when the number of buildings was about half of the present number are what we still use and not even in fit for purpose conditions. This is also the situation in many of the local government areas in the country but these facilities, transformers, power cables etc are designed to operate with loads that do not exceed their design capacities. Let the government restructure our Town Planning Authorities to the standard that will enable them to give the necessary information and assistance to NEPA for future plan. And NEPA management needs to have the right people in its system, people that know what information to look for, what to plan for, how to execute the plans and how the plans will be reviewed for improvement and development of the nation.

I will conclude by stating that I am not in support of the belief of some Nigerians that the problems of power generation and distribution in Nigeria cannot be solved. Companies like Shell, NLNG, Agip, etc operate in Nigeria, generate the electricity power they use in most of their locations on their own and their power plants have been operating with little or no records of power failure for years. Let NEPA borrow from the operation methodology of these multinational companies and change for the better so that the billions of Naira which the Federal Government spends every year to ensure uninterrupted electricity power supply in Nigeria yield result.






Akande Adeyinka is a practicing Mechanical Engineer in Nigeria.





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