Thursday, March 4, 2021

Why Govt, Morupule B contractor fell out

Fresh information indicates that the year 2014 is expected to be characterised by prolonged and widespread load shedding as the Botswana Government refuses to approve a repair plan presented by executives of China National Electric Equipment Corporation (CNEEC.)

A senior official close to the project who preferred anonymity for fear of reprisals said the government and the Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) do not believe the identified problems stated in the repair plan by contractor such as the design of the boiler sub-systems are root cause of failure by unit two which was shut down on January 16 2013 on account of a water leak inside the boiler sub systems.

Currently only units one and three are operational and power supply will remain precarious until all the four units at the Power Station are brought back into service. Unit four is still under construction and indications are that it could be affected by the protracted negotiations on repair plan.

The boilers were designed by a Germany company called Lentjes. The company used a rare technology for the design of the boiler, as per the BPC tender requirements.  Unit two was shut down on January 16 last year on account of a water leak inside the boiler sub-systems.

“The CNEEC was supposed to bring unit two into operation soon. After some investigations, the contractor identified that the designing of the boiler was to blame but BPC does not agree that the failure of the boiler is due to the way it was designed. The world over this kind of boiler systems is seldom used,” said the source.┬á

At the height of the repair plan talks BCP reportedly collected some materials from unit two and have been sent to an unidentified laboratory for testing.

It is understood that the contractor believes that the BPC engineers are unqualified and inexperienced to approve the repair plan. CNEEC executives have also taken offence to reports that the government is blaming them for failure to deliver the project within schedule.

The Telegraph has learnt that the Chinese contractor insists that it delivered the project within schedule but refused to offer services for maintenance and operations of the project because that was not included in the contract, a mistake that BPC noticed after signing the contract.

After realising that the contractor had no obligation to operate and maintain Morupule B, BPC started negotiations with NECC for the operation and maintenance of the power plant.

“The contract took offence when the government announced that it delayed in bringing the full power plant into service. This is because the contractor has no obligation under the existing contract to operate the units. The two parties at the height of the negotiations engaged in spats over the issue” said the source.

The main contract was revised and an interim contract for the maintenance and operation of Morupule B was signed on July 2012 and ended on July 2013.┬á According to the documents seen by The Telegraph, the interim contract was extended from July 2013 and ended December 2013. The two parties once gain entered into negotiations and the contactor refused saying some of the conditions proposed by BPC were unreasonable. The contractor intended to provide manpower but BPC wanted to “push all the responsibilities to CNECC without revising the proposal to include among others unforeseen costs and payment guarantees.”

 The BPC is yet to pay the contractor for the balance of the operation and maintenance interim contractor after it handed the button to a Germany company called STEAG.

For now there is no timeframe as to when the plant will be completed because talks between the two parties on the repair plan have reached a stalemate. The source said BPC has a long way to go and it is likely to incur more costs with regard to maintenance and operations of the plant. The project was expected to be complete by October 2012 after the commissioning of the fourth unit but to date only two units, one and four were in operation whilst the company was yet to do some remedial works on units three and two.

BCP is yet to respond to a questionnaire that was sent last week Tuesday while CNECC executives declined to comment on the matter. But the project’s manager, Zhao Seulin is quoted as saying that his company had procured material to carry out the repair work for the two remaining units but could not carry on with the repair work because it was still awaiting BPC to approve the repair plan.

For his part BPC chief executive officer, Jacob Raleru is quoted as saying that BPC tried to reach an agreement with CNEEC but to no avail.

Regarding the non-approval of CNEEC’s remedial plan, he said BPC was still looking into it and once everything was in place, the remaining work would be done.

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