The first unit of the 700-megawatt (MW) Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant in Niger State will commence energy generation in 2019, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has said.
The minister, who was represented by the director, Energy Resources of the ministry Engineer Olatunji Ajayi, at a ceremony to mark the River Closure on the plant’s main river bed at the project site yesterday, the minister also disclosed that the last unit of the effort would become operational in the first quarter of 2020 following the completion of the entire project.
The project, which is in collaboration between Nigeria and China, began with a groundbreaking by former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, on September 27, 2013.
The China Exim Bank is expected to contribute 75 percent while the Nigerian government will take 25 percent of the total cost of the project which is put at $1.5 billion at conception with a duration period of 57 months.
The contract which is being handled by SINOHYDRO and CNEE Co. consists of a 700 MW hydropower station, a river dam, a 2,400m RCC roller concrete gravity dam, a clay core rock fill dam, a power house behind the dam, a tailrace channel and two switchyards on both banks, among others.
The minister said work on the project had reached 40 percent completion with the river closure, while the gate locking and reservoir impounding would ignite generation activities.
He said the federal government had also evolved a programme to permanently resettle communities around the project with compensation payment to the affected people simultaneously as work progresses.
The Vice President of Power China International Group Limited, Mr. Tian Haihua, said the main river bed closure would galvanise activities leading to the eventual completion of the project, which he said, was capable of generating 10,000 direct jobs, while assuring that contractors would work in-line with the contract specification.
Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, who was represented by the Commissioner for Works and Housing, Malam Abdulmalik Cheche, assured the contractors of state government’s support on the project. He also assured people of the affected communities that resettlement and compensation matters would be resolved quickly.