Thursday, June 13, 2024

Troubled Waters Gov’t: MetEC shouldn’t have gotten involved in GERD


The government has expressed regret for the Metal and Engineering Corporation’s (MetEC) involvement in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has taken four years longer than anticipated and is currently experiencing delays. The project which began in 2011 was expected to be finished in 5 to 7 years or by 2017, according to the original plan and was supposed to be generating power even earlier.
The civil work, managed by the Italian firm Salini Impregilo, is progressing well even though some of their work has been derailed by MetEC’s electromechanical and hydraulic steel structure work which was supposed to be run in parallel but that has been significantly delayed.
In a panel discussion held on December 13 at Elilly International Hotel Seleshi Bekele (PhD), Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, said that it was a mistake handing over part of the project to MetEC.
MetEC was not experienced and was a new company when it took the electromechanical and other related work at the GERD. The officials at the Ethiopian Electric and Ministry said that the major problem was lying about the performance.
Salini has concluded 82 percent of its part and secured the payment equivalent. At the same time MetEC has consumed 65 percent of the payment but has only finished 23 percent of the work.
He criticized MetEC for relying on politics instead of professionalism. “This contributed to loss of the opportunity that the country would have earned if everything was run on time,” he said. “The civil work it better than the complex electrochemical work for new companies,” he expressed.
“Only 33 percent of the bottom has been finished and there are problems with quality and dimension but this section is supposed to be finished already,” Kifle Horo (Eng), manager of GERD said.
He said that several similar projects that are supposed to be accomplished face quality problems that will be dealt with soon.
GERD is expected to be finished in 2022, and generation from two turbines will begin in two years.
Kifle said that some work being done by MetEC has been transferred to other companies which are supplying equipment like turbines and generators. Well accepted international companies like Alstom of France and Voith of Germany will be part of the installment process.
The main problems involve lack of quality largely because MetEC created material and standard errors, significant delay, and was forced to make additional payments to correct the errors and claims by civil contracts, according to Abraham Belay (PhD), CEO of Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), which was supposed manage GERD directly and now has done so.
Seleshi criticized the exclusion of EEP from the project. “The knowledge of EEP was not transferred because it did not have a role in GERD, and instead only settled the required payment,” he said. “EEP has massive experience, but in the GERD case it did not get involved,” Seleshi said adding that; “institutional arrangements have been another challenge.”
He said that EEP has to own the project. Officials declared that additional costs will be disclosed in the near future. So far the GERD has consumed 98 billion birr. Initially the government stated it would consume USD 4.6 billion, which is around 129 billion birr given the current exchange rate.
The officials expressed their hope that the public would continue to support the dam, which is fully financed by local sources, and still by GERD Bonds.
Roman Gebreselassie, Director of the GERD Council Secretariat, said that from the total cost 20 percent was expected from the public contribution via different forms including the bond. She said that the public has already contributed 15 percent of the total expected contribution, while the latest reports regarding GERD has frozen the public’s resolve.
“In our latest general survey 47 percent expressed disagreement for further financial support and the 45 percent are still hopeful about the flagship project,” she said. She underlined that GERD has to show improvements.
Kilfe, who replaced the late Simegnew Bekele (Eng.) as a project manager, promised that they would never present fabricated reports about the performance of the project, which is now stuck at 65 percent from the previous 67 percent report. MetEC, which has most of its former leaders under custody on corruption charges, was well known for giving contradictory performance figures about its operation at GERD and other mega projects like sugar and fertilizer factories.

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