Gov't Commits US$45M To Hydro: LME Boss Discloses
Electricity is certainly essential to economic growth and the administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, acknowledges this undeniable fact, and is thus taking every step to once more re-electrify Liberia. Lands, Mines and Energy Minister, Patrick Sendolo has divulged to newsmen over the weekend that the government has committed a mouthwatering amount of $45 million United States dollars, and has put in place other workable mechanisms to revamp or rehabilitate the wrecked Mount Coffee
Hydro Plant, our Staff Writer Peter A. Fahn reports.
In an exclusive interview with this paper over the weekend, Lands and Mines Minister Sendolo intimated that the allocation of the above mentioned amount from the government’s struggling, tiny budget signifies government’s commitment and dedication to restore electricity to its peoples through the resuscitation of the hydro dam in the Country.
He disclosed that the hydro dam is expected to be up and fully functioning in about three and a half years, which means that by 2015 the Mount Coffee hydro dam will be back in operations.
He told this paper that the government has a plan to double the initial amount of US$45 Million committed for the re-construction and habilitation of the dam, as the country’s revenue generating capacity expands, noting that the total cost of the project is put at US$200 Million.
“As you know the government is pursuing vigorous plans for expanding the economy and achieving middle income status by 2030. In order to do so successfully, you are required to achieve certain minimum economic growth rate each year, and in order to achieve that growth rate, you need a certain amount of energy,” the Minister said while laying emphasis on the restoration of the hydro plant.
He continued: “Hydro electricity specifically, and energy in general is government’s top most priority. Hydro is a part of energy; it is a bigger thing.”
In addition to the amount earmarked by the government, he noted that the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy is in collaboration with other relevant agencies, taking other concrete measures to fast-track rehabilitation works on the Mount Coffee Plant, adding that among these initiatives include the construction work that has begun on the Arlington –Mount Coffee road following the conclusion of a contract with CHICO, a Chinese construction company.
He intimated that the construction of the “access road” from Arthington to Mount Coffee is significantly important for several reasons; such as the possibility of using the road to transport heavy equipment to the hydro when rehabilitation works on the ruined facility begins.
“This ministry has being considering the fastest way that we can rehabilitate the hydro. So, we have put in place a concrete plan to fast-track the process, by cutting off all the extra steps that we do not need, and by making sure that we do everything humanly possible to achieve our target in the time frame set,” the Minister told this paper.
Minister Sendolo said government has already signed the contract for the design of the turbines, which is the electrical devices that has the potential to generate electricity, including other electrical components of the plant.
He said this engineering work is delicate and meticulous, and as such, it requires considerable time and technical energy to have the work completed, indicating that the early signing of the contractual agreement is critical and essential, to ensure that government is in time with the targeted date of completion.
“By achieving these things, we set ourselves on target to achieve the three and a half years time-frame to have the hydro dam rehabilitated, all things being equal,” Minister Sendolo pointed out.
“By next year, the road will be done, and the bid would have been issued for the turbines, it will just be a matter of doing some civil works, running the transmission lines from Mount Coffee to Bushrod Island, and in three and a half years, the turbines will be installed and things would be back on track,” he added.
He informed this Paper that in a bid to realize this national goal, government has also secured donors commitments in the process. He disclosed that, for example, the German Government has promised US$35 million in grant while the Norwegians have also promised US$7m in grant, adding that donor partners have promised US$105m in grants out of the estimated US$200 million needed for the project. He noted that the European Investment Bank has also expressed interest in lending aid to the hydro dam project, although the negotiations are still ongoing.
The Lands, Mines and Energy Minister said after the restoration of the 64 mega watts hydro electric power, the government intends to further develop the St. Paul River basin in a bid to increase and expand efficient and affordable power across the country that will support and spur economic activities; hence propelling the country in its drive to achieve its middle income status by 2030.
As an interim measure to increase the current power generating capacity to Monrovia and adjacent parts before the hydro is lighted up, Minister Sendolo says the government is exploring modalities for additional 30-40 mega watts, which he said will expand the transmission and distribution of power to other parts of the country such as the Roberts International Airport, the bustling commercial Paynesville Redlight, Gardnersville and other parts of the capital, adding that government’s priority now is to reduce the cost of electricity which now stands as high as US$ 54 cent per kilowatt, an amount that he noted is unbearable for the Liberian people.
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