2009-03-14 08:55:00 More queries than answers in Ngeleja power remarks Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja as he addresses a press conference on the power generation in Dar es Salaam yesteray. By Vicent Mnyanyika THE CITIZEN Energy and Minerals minister William Ngeleja yesterday came out fighting against critics of the government's handling of the Dowans plant saga, but his statement raised more questions than answers. Mr Ngeleja did not categorically state whether or not the Government will buy the 100MW Dowans Company generators, as had been generally expected since the simmering controversy was rekindled when Tanesco announced it had dropped its bid for the plant. Addressing a press conference in his office in Dar es Salaam, the minister lamented that the issue had been overly politicised. He called for an end to the Dowans debate, pleading that the ministry be left to run the sector without undue interference. Mr Ngeleja also faulted Parliament's handling of the Tanesco proposal to purchase the Dowans turbines, citing the public procurement law as the basis. The same Parliament in 2007, he said, unanimously approved the intended purchase of Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL) plant in the public interest. Mr Ngeleja said the circumstances were similar to the Dowans purchase proposal. The parliamentary committees for Energy and Minerals and Public Accounts chaired by Bumbuli MP William Shelukindo and Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe, respectively, had publicly differed on the Dowans issue. The Shelukindo team opposed the purchase, while some members of the Kabwe group were for it. While the Shelukindo committee cites the procurement law as a basis for not purchasing the used turbines, the Zitto team argued that such a purchase was necessary to avert a serious power crisis. Yesterday, Mr Ngeleja assured consumers that there would be no power rationing, contrary to fears expressed a week ago by the Tanesco managing director, Dr Idris Rashidi. According to Tanesco, the country would require an additional 200MW to be added to the national grid before December 2010 to avoid a power supply crisis. Last wee, Dr Rashidi said he and other professionals at Tanesco had been pained by the "lies being peddled against us by politicians and other prominent citizens." He accused the politicians of deliberately issuing statements aimed at misleading the public on Tanesco's case. Yesterday, the minister said the Government had taken measures to avert a power shortage that could plunge the country into darkness as happened in early 2006, necessitating the procurement of emergency electricity supply. One of the measures, he said, was to buy a 150MW power plant this year with support from donors, but did not give any details as to when, how and where the said plant would be sourced. With barely nine months before the end of the year, it was not immediately clear if the Dowans could be considered for purchase or had been completely ruled out. During the press conference, Mr Ngeleja did not say if the 150MW plant would be procured as another emergency power generation contract. According to Tanesco experts, the procurement of such a plan would take at least two years to order, import, install, test and commission. This would mean that the earliest the project Mr Ngeleja spoke about would be up and running would be 2011. Mr Ngeleja had said: "We will finalise a plan to purchase 150MW generators this year. The Government is doing everything possible in collaboration with donors to ensure that the deal succeeds." He said a campaign to get industrial consumers and households to use power more efficiently would help the Government to reduce demand by 20 per cent and save 120MW. Forty megawatts would also be injected into the national grid through "standardized small power purchase agreements" from the private sector, while all Tanesco plants would be serviced. He said by October, the Tegeta gas plant (45MW) would be completed, a 60MW project would be implemented in Mwanza. According to Mr Ngeleja, the Singida wind power plant estimated to produce 50MW would be ready by 2010, Kiwira plant project (400MW) by between 2011 and 2014, Kinyerezi plant (240MW) by 2011 alongside Ruhudji hydroelectric plant (358MW).