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Sunday, 06 March 2011 10:39

Bui Project Needs Additional $168 Million Funding

By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh

BUI, Ghana, March 6, 2011 (The Business Chronicle) — The Government of Ghana is seeking an additional $168 million funding from the EXIM Bank of China to complete Ghana's third hydroelectric power dam, the Bui Hydroelectric Dam in 2013.

 

The Deputy Minister of Energy, Mr. Inusah Fuseini disclosed this to the Business Chronicle at the project site at Bui, in the Tain District of the Brong-Ahafo Region.

According to him, "We are making significant effort to get additional funding of $168 million from the EXIM Bank. We are already in talks with the Chinese Government to persuade the bank for the additional funds in April 2011". He added that "the EXIM Bank has expressed interest to support us".

The ongoing 400 MW Bui Hydroelectric project is estimated to cost $622 million. With a concession loan of $263.5 million, a buyer's credit of $ 298.5 million from the People's Republic of China and EXIM Bank respectively, with the Government of Ghana contributing $60 million.

The Government of Ghana, as 'Employer', entered into an Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC)/Turnkey Project Contract for the implementation of the project in 2007 with Sinohydro Corporation Limited, with a major Chinese dam construction firm as the 'contractor'. The role of 'Employer' was subsequently assigned to Bui Power Authority to manage and supervise the project.

The project, when completed in 2013, will increase the country's power generation capacity, thereby, enhancing electricity supply in the country, and the reliability and security of power supply to the northern sector of Ghana.

WHY FUNDING SHORTFALL

Explaining to senior journalists at a press conference, after an extensive tour of the dam site, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bui Power Authority (BPA), Mr. Jabesh Amissah-Arthur, flanked by the Board Chairman of the Authority, Mr. Adjei Mensah, the Deputy Ministers of Energy and Information, Mr. Inusah Fuseini and Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Municipal Executive for Wenchi, Mr. Yaw Osei Agyei, the DCE for Tain, Jones Samuel Tawiah and officials of the Authority, revealed that the Bui Hydroelectric project was experiencing a shortfall in project funding arising primarily from the unanticipated effects of the recent global upheavals as well as unforeseen essential works.

These global events have resulted in the inadequacy of the budget provided for some line items in the Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract. This led to the shortfall of $ 167 million. While, the reasons for the funding shortfall in respect to these line items are: Price and Physical contingencies, and other items.

Touching on price contingency, Mr. Amissah-Arthur indicated that the turnkey price for the project was agreed in 2007 based on cost estimates ($622 million) submitted by the contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

A formula for calculating escalation payment was included in the contract, while a ceiling for price escalation payment was also agreed, which limited the escalation index to a maximum of 17% for any payment, he added.

Mr. Amissah-Arthur, who spoke articulately, said "As a result of the global financial upheavals, the escalation index related to the first payment application dated October 2008 was 17%".

This escalation index has since increased with every submission to 41%, as at December 2010, hence the need to re-estimate the obligations in respect to price escalation, to the maximum value of $90.7 million, being 17% of the value of the main works.

The re-estimated obligation, when compared with the fact that the provisional budget to meet price escalation payments was only $7 million, shows that the budget provision is grossly inadequate, and needs to be increased to the re-estimated value of $90.7 million.

In addition, there is the need to provide for an initial working capital, supplementary insurance and other incremental costs totaling $15.9 million, while the total additional amount of price contingency stands at $106.7 million, he revealed.

On physical contingency, the CEO observed that "Any complex construction project, such as the Bui Hydroelectric project which incorporates substantial levels of geological unknowns and other physical risks, needs to recognize the associated uncertainties and, therefore, make an appropriate budgetary provision for physical contingency".

Furthermore, Mr. Amissah-Arthur pointed out that a budgetary provision of $7 million was made under line item 17.8 of the contract for physical contingency, adding this amount has been found to be grossly inadequate, as a number of unanticipated or unbudgeted items have come up.

The essential items which were not foreseen or unbudgeted include: division of Banda-Bongase Road and 33kV powerline; reservoir clearing; turbinette; water supply plants and development of fisheries in the Bui Reservoir.

The Authority, therefore, proposed that the provision be revised to $47.7million, representing 15% of the value of main works.

Other items not budgeted or foreseen are; employer's engineering and administration; employer's permanent facilities, workshop and equipment for maintenance of the facilities, and facilities for resettlement. These cost $20.6 million.

WORKS ON MAIN DAM AREA

A Civil Engineer at the Bui project, Mr. Kwaku Sarpong Akorsah disclosed to the Business Chronicle that civil works at the dam site were progressing steadily, saying "we have completed 66% of civil works of the dam".

He added that about 29% of civil works for the dam's powerhouse compressing units one, two, three and the erection bay have been completed. The installation of three turbines and generators is yet to commence.

Furthermore, work on the downstream Permanent Bridge is about 80% completed, whilst foundation excavation and improvement is underway for Saddle Dam Number One. Work on Saddle Dam Number two is yet to commence, officials of Authority told the paper.

On Transmission Line, the Business Chronicle was told that physical demarcation of the transmission line corridor, including related asset valuation by the Land Valuation Board was on-going.

RESETTLEMENT ISSUES

Work is complete on all 170 housing units in the Resettlement Part B Township, where the three remaining communities, namely Bui, Bator-Akanyakrom, and Dokokyina are to be resettled, Mr. Amissah-Arthur told the Business Chronicle.

While, 29 households comprising 156 people, out of a total of 36 households (165 people) from Dokokyina have been resettled amicable.

He disclosed that "Livelihood enhancement programme to restore lost economic activities and improving living standards in project affected communities is underway". Under the programme, the Authority gives GH ¢100 to each person in a household. This will continue for a year.

In addition, the Authority will build fish ponds for the settlers. They can also fish in the downstream of the dam.

Water supply systems (bore holes) are in place. The construction of a 6-unit classroom block for primary school has been completed. Works on the community centre are 75% completed, while construction of internal roads is underway.

All these facilities will be connected to electricity with help of the Authority. To add up, construction of 24 replacement housing units to replace the temporary houses provided earlier for four communities such as Brewohodi, Lucene, Agbegikuro and Dam Site is underway.

NO BUI CITY

The common knowledge among Ghanaians is that the Bui project incorporates the development of a modern township called Bui City. This impression was left with Ghanaians from the sod-cutting ceremony of the project in 2007 by the then President John Agyekum Kufuor , that the project funding included the Bui City.

The general assumption of Ghanaians, therefore, was that the Bui City was under development at the same time as the Dam construction was in progress, but "This is far from the truth", said the CEO of the Authority.

Mr. Amissah-Arthur explained that "The reality is that Bui City is still a concept for which no financial provision has been made yet". However, the realization of the Bui City concept depends upon the attraction of private investors to develop the different components of the city as well as to establish the businesses in the area.

BENEFITS

A part from power generation, the project when completed will be used for irrigation purposes. For instance, the irrigable land of 30,000 hectares will serve as bedrock for massive mechanise farming.

Through the project the area will be powered for food and cash crops, fisheries and animal husbandry.

The Deputy Minister of Information, Mr. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa added that when the project is completed, it would improve the living standards of the people. The project will provide jobs and support the development of cottage industries. Mr. Okudzeto Ablakwa, therefore, appealed to investors to partner government in the project.

The Business Chronicle learned that the ongoing 400 MW Bui Hydropower project was considered to be the most technically and economically attractive hydropower site in Ghana, after Akosombo and Kpong Hydro Power plants. (END/2011)


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