Manitoba Hydro expresses frustration over TCN management —Says company is insolvent
By Joseph BAMIDELE
ABUJA – The management contractor for the Transmission Company of Nigeria, Manitoba Hydro International of Canada has regretted the challenges which have led to delays in its takeover of operations of the company.
The Chief Executive Officer of Manitoba Hydro, Mr. Don Priestman, who spoke in an interview to journalists at the background of the 7th General Assembly of the West Africa Power Pool, WAPP, in Abuja, noted that they are still waiting for the government to put in place the schedule for delegated authority.
According to Priestman, the first month, August was a transition month and according to the contract starting the September 1, 2012 the schedule of delegated authority should have been issued, which would have given Manitoba Hydro full authority for running TCN.
“That has not happened. It is unfortunate; I think you will have to ask the authorities why not. We are ready and keen to proceed. We have the people and resources here to do the work and we know what to do. Note that we have done something similar in other countries with great success.
“So, we hope there won’t be much more delay before we can start doing what we came here to do. We have been working with our counterparts we have been getting to know all of the players. We now understand all of the issues much better and there are many, many challenges so it hasn’t been entirely wasted time that’s for sure. However, we came here to do a job and its difficult to do a job when you are not in charge,” he stated.
He added that, “Right now we are working closely with the government and we are observing. We are making suggestions but we are not in control. We have been working closely with the government but we want to get a different paradigm in terms of running the company.
“We want to start working longer term. We want to get the government support so we can have better funding rather than worrying where the next amount of money is going to come from. The market funds that we have right now have to serve all of the players in the power sector. There is not very much money coming in there is a lot of demand on that fund so it’s a challenge.”
Priestman stressed that the TCN as presently constituted was beset with a lot of challenges, notably that of insolvency and poor maintenance of infrastructure.
According to him, “TCN is insolvent. So the whole approach to running the company is going to have to change fundamentally. At present the amount of money TCN gets is not at all certain. We are operating under what is called a minimum operating budget allocation. So we are living from hand to mouth. We can’t plan ahead. In terms of projects its very short term focused.
“What we want to do is completely change that approach and have a more professional best practices approach where we make long term plans, that way we get consistency between the engineering plans and the financial plans so we know what we can afford. We issue budgets accordingly and then we get but in from all sides. And then we know where we are going and how much we will have to do the job.”
He added that, at present the company “doesn’t know how much we are to be getting and that means maintenance has been a serious problem. You can see what’s been happening with the outages. That is something that cannot be changed really quickly. It is a problem that has evolved over quite a long period of time it would take time to fix.”
He expressed the hope that the contract date would shift to whatever eventual the government decides to put the schedule in place, noting that, “It is definitely what we hope that this is a transition where decisions are being made. Everybody has to buy in to the idea but we are here and we are ready but the decision is out of our hands.”
Reacting to the comments by the Manitoba Hydro CEO, the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Power, Dr. Dere Awosika noted that the delay was as a result of the need by government to tweak aspects of the terms of agreement and ensure there is transparency in the process.
She argued that government was not placing obstacles in the take-off of the schedule of delegated authority, adding that, “Why do you think they (Manitoba) are in this meeting? They are already working. If you have a contract and your contract is not suitable would you start?
When he introduced himself he said Manitoba/TCN, did I speak for him?
“It’s a very transparent issue. There is nothing to be worried about really. You want us to just throw out the issue without smoothing ends. When you sign a contract you get bonded to the issue. They signed a contract now they are going to give them terms of the working.
“It is in our interest that is why we put it in the road map. They did not do the roadmap for us. In the roadmap we have management contract and management contract is necessary and will always be used going forward,” Awosika added.