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Power Distributors Owe NERC, NBET, TCN N205.51bn

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Power distribution companies are not only indebted to their counterparts in the electricity generation arm of the sector, they also owe service providers a total of N205.51bn.
The service providers in the power sector are the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, the Transmission Service Provider, the System Operator and the Market Operator.
The TSP, SO and MO are different arms of the Transmission Company of Nigeria.
Figures contained in the August 2018 report, presented by the MO to industry operators at the recent power sector stakeholders’ meeting, showed that the indebtedness of the Discos to service providers had been accumulating since the commencement of the Transitional Electricity Market.
The market (TEM) became operational on January 1, 2015, and its commencement led to the implementation of all contractual obligations in the privatised power sector.
The MO, in its report, which was obtained by our correspondent from the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Abuja on Friday, stated that the N205.51bn was the total indebtedness of the Discos to NERC, NBET and the TCN, from January 2015 to June 2018.
A further analysis of the report showed that the 11 Discos were indebted to the service providers.
Yola Disco’s N2.24bn debt, according to the MO, was the least among the debtors, while Abuja, Ibadan, Enugu, Kaduna and Port Harcourt Discos owe N26.48bn, N22.64bn, N21.95bn, N19.31bn and N19.14bn, respectively.
The Managing Director, TCN, Usman Mohammed, stated that the power distribution companies were withholding money meant for the expansion of the nation’s electricity transmission network.
According to him, the poor remittances from the Discos had made the country’s transmission company the most vulnerable arm of the power value chain in Nigeria.
Mohammed stated that if not for grants and loans from multilateral donors, the transmission company would not be able to expand its network.
He said, “If you look at the power sector, the TCN is the most vulnerable organisation. Why did I say that? I say that because the Discos are collecting our money and they keep all they want to keep and give the sector whatever they like.
“Power generation companies are covered by what they call payment assurance from the Federal Government which is about N701bn. The only arm of the sector that is not taken care of is the TCN and that is why we are the least paid in the industry.”
Mohammed added, “So, we had to go to multilateral donors like the World Bank to raise money for the expansion of the network. But you know you can’t use this money for operation. You cannot go to the World Bank and get money for running your system.
“The money you can get is for the expansion of your network, for hard investments. They can’t give you money for running your operations. So, this is the situation.”
But the Discos, through their spokesperson, Sunday Oduntan, argued that the fundamental problem in the sector currently was the electricity tariff gap.
He explained the gap as “the gap between what the government has specified as the price of the electricity that we distribute or retail and the true cost of the product.
“It is this gap that has solely contributed to the excess of N1.3tn that the Discos are carrying on their financial books, an impediment to both the sustainability of the electricity market and the ability of the investors to meet the obligations.”
Oduntan added, “Of important note is that we are not advocating or imposing a tariff increase on electricity consumers, some of whom are already dealing with affordability issues. We are stating that the mandated tariff gap is a responsibility of the government and should be addressed by the government, so that Nigerians can receive the improved electricity delivery service that they deserve.”
He also stated that the tariff gap was solely responsible for the debt, which the Discos owed power generation companies.

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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