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Minister hints at indictments of former power officials, contractor

Minister hints at indictments of former power officials, contractor

The Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Sileshi Bekele (PhD), hinted at the possibility of instituting a legal action, by the government, against the former officials of the Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) and a contractor, over breach of the contractual agreement and the delay of the Repie Waste Energy Plant project construction whose capacity was said to have been halved by 50 percent from the original agreement.

While reporting his Ministry’s eight month report to the Houses of People’s Representatives (HPR), the Minister disclosed that the projects are nearing completion despite the continuing saga between the project owner and the contractor.

In his report, he highlighted major achievements that were carried out in the past eight months. However, several questions were raised by MPs.

Among the mega projects, the Minister was requested to explain the current status of the USD 95 million (2.6 billion birr) worth Repie project. It was launched in 2013 as a municipal solid waste incarceration plant.

It was built by Cambridge Industries Limited (CIL) together with a Chinese partner. It also involved a Danish consultant, Ramboll. It was fully funded by the government.

The project, which was inaugurated last year by former President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) and other high-level government officials with 95 percent of the project completed. However, things immediately turned sour on the inauguration day as officials of EEP publicly disclosed the plant’s electric generating capacity to be at 25MW while the contract entered stated that it was 50MW.

On Thursday’s session, MPs raised the same question of electric generation capacity

“The project’s inauguration was held before full completion. It generates half the stated amount and the eventual loss it brings to the country is not to be underestimated. Is the responsible person for the failure identified and would that person be held accountable?” an MP asked.

In his response, the Minister told MPs that the project had problems since the beginning.

He confirmed that the contractor had signed to deliver the project with production capacity of 50 MW. There was a gap in the project signing from both parties – the EEP and the contractor.

“To identify the root problem and its impact, we have already established a taskforce which consists of professionals from universities and other concerned organizations. During the investigation of the taskforce, the problem has been identified and the contractor was told to complete the projects as per the agreement,” the Minister told the House adding, “Now the project is near completion with its own unresolved gaps. But as per the direction from the government, efforts are undertaken to all those responsible for the project delay and inefficiencies accountable before the justice body.”

The project was supposed to take 1,400 tons of waste daily which is 80 percent of refuse generated by Addis Ababa. It will go on to supply the capital with 30 percent of household electricity demand while conforming to global standards on air emissions.

In waste-to-energy incineration plants, rubbish is burned in a combustion chamber. The resulting heat is used to boil water until it turns to steam, which drives a turbine generator that produces electricity.