-Calls on gov’t to prepare for power distribution to households
The general manager of Transmission Company in Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (TRANSCO CLSG), Mohammed M. Sherif, says all is done to complete the first four substations in March 2020, as planned.
This, Sherif said, will now help to connect households across the country.
He made the remarks on Monday, December 9 during the annual donors’ coordination meeting held at a resort in Monrovia where he assured the donors’ community, and the Liberian government of the project completion as scheduled.
TRANSCO CLSG is a regional transmission company, established by international treaty to build 1,303km transmission line and substations from La Cote d’Ivoire, linking Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“We have few challenges, but all the substations in Liberia with the exception of Botota will be completed this December. Our problem is the transmission line, which runs from Mann in La Cote D’Ivoire to Yekepa in Liberia, but due to some constraints, including raining season that was so heavy,” Mr. Sherif said.
He said in addition to the raining season, the project also stalled because of a damaged bridge on the St. Paul River that led to contractors being unable to move their equipment from Yekepa, Nimba County to Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
“We ended up talking with the Senegalese Contractors that were paving the road between Ganta and Sanniquellie, which delayed for three months. This extended the planned timeline for us. The Liberian government, particularly the Public Works Ministry, helps to resolve the issue with the Senegalese Company,” Mr. Sherif said.
Additionally, he said TRANSCO CLSG also encountered challenges in approving funds, which resulted in a meeting in Belgium, where contractors, TRANSCO management, TRANSCO engineers and also some external partners addressed the issues that actually helped to end the project in March.
“By the end of March, next year, pre-testing, and conclusion will be completed. Again, it will be very unfortunate if the CLSG line comes to Yekepa and the Government is not ready to connect the households, which does not fall under the mandate of TRANSCO CLSG. We hope that when the line comes to Buchanan, all households will be connected and then Mount Coffee line will also connect households in Montserrado County, which is far lower and affordable than current power,” Mr. Sherif said.
He said while it is exciting to bring the line to help the Liberian government, given the financial and economic constraints, the issue of distribution to households must be considered a serious priority, despite constraints faced by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC).
“We are on the regional front, but LEC needs to address a wide range of issues, including managing the system to cut down losses and illegal connections. TRANSCO CLSG internally developed a strategy to collaborate with government and donor to respond if any situation of circumstances,” he said.
He said in order to get the power, LEC will have to sign the power purchase agreement (PPA), which is initially Cote D’Ivoire and sign transmission service with TRANSCO that will transmit the electricity to destination requires.
World Bank Country Manager Khwima Nthara, said the importance of the project for Liberia cannot be overemphasized, and therefore expressed optimistic that the project will benefit all the neighboring countries.
“This project is critical in equalizing development for Liberia. We are now nearing dry season and very excited about the supply of electricity. Therefore, we look forward to commissioning in July. We know the extent to which this project will help alleviate the challenges for Liberia, especially electricity,” Mr. Nthara said.
He said the World Bank is looking forward to the scheduled date for the completion of the project, because it’s a project that is being long awaited by Liberians and the international or donors’ community.
He then committed the World Bank to the project, particularly working with all stakeholders and the governments as well as development partners in making sure that this project comes to frustration because the benefits will be immense.
“This project will help Liberia to export power large customers, especially the mining sector. This will be a success for the government,” he said.
The 2-day event brought together Government officials, donors’ community, partners, officials of the Liberia Electricity Corporation, and TRANSCO management.
Liberia’s Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler Murray, said the energy sector remains critical for the development of Liberia because it offers many potentials.
“We have a lot of work to do over the next couple of days. Again, we have to remove illegal and non-paying commercial customers if we are to have any chance of meeting deadline or demand of mount coffee in 2020 raining season and operational CLSG,” Mr. Murray said.
He said this will involve a theft removing system on the LEC commercial system, which also requires help from various partners.
“We have to know exactly what the CLSG under this timeline looks like. We have to work hard to identify the commercial and viable loads that sign up and paying on time. We also need to continue LEC proactive engagement with our neighboring states to make sure that we have workable plans and legal and financial framework for both import and export,” Mr. Murray said.