The gas turbines imported to build the biggest power plant in the north, but which had remained trapped at the Onne Port for over two years now, have started making their way to Kaduna, the home of the plant.
The turbines for multi-billion naira 215 megawatts power plant could not be transported to Kaduna because of crumbled roads and weak bridges.
Huge trucks were seen yesterday loaded with some of the turbines in Port Harcourt ready to move to Kaduna.
It was not clear yesterday whether the roads and the bridges had been fixed, but sources said FRSC officials are on standby to guide the movement of the trucks from Port Harcourt to Kaduna.
The Federal Government awarded the contract in November 2009 to General Electric and Rockson Engineering for a dual thermal plant using Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) and natural gas, to be located in Kudenda, Kaduna.
It has a December 31, 2013 completion period, but sources say the planners did not reckon with nature of Nigerian roads and quality of the LPFO produced at the Kaduna refinery. It was only when the equipment arrived at the port in Onne, Rivers State; nearly two years ago that authorities and contractors began to worry about how to bring them up North.
The project was conceived as part of efforts to revive industries that folded up as a result of unstable power supply.
When the contract was awarded three years ago, an official of GE said the scope included manufacture and supply of eight General Electric Frame 5 Dual Fuel Gas Turbines in Italy and shipment to Nigeria as well as the design, engineering, procurement of the balance of the plant, installation, construction, testing and coming of the whole project.
“The turbines are very heavy and the roads are too bad and the bridges along the way too weak to carry the vehicles that will transport them,” a source said.
At a point, the option of flying the turbines by a special Russian plane was mulled but was this considered to be too expensive.
The Federal Ministry of Works then pledged to fix the roads within six weeks at a much cheaper cost than hiring the Russian plane, but six months after making the pledge this has not been done.
Sources also told Daily Trust that the problem is not with the transportation of the equipment alone but also with fuelling the power plant.
The plant is to be powered with LPFO to be sourced from the Kaduna refinery, but it was later found out that the LPFO produced in Kaduna is of low quality and could damage the equipment.
“Therefore the fuel has to be imported and brought to Kaduna from the seaports by tankers since the pipelines are also problematic. The plant will require 30 fuel tankers per day to work at full capacity,” the source said.