NTDC undergoes massive overhaul

LAHORE: In an unprecedented move, the government reshuffled about two dozen senior officials from the state-owned National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC), the News learned on Friday.

According to the notifications, up to 23 senior officials have been transferred and assigned, some to locations far from headquarters, as part of a massive reorganization process. Official sources have claimed that several officials who have been transferred from their key posts at head office include outgoing Khawaja Riffiat Hussan and Chief Engineer (PMU) Munawar Hussain Bhatti.

Sources said the former managing director, who was removed from his post last week, is now posted to Hyderabad as the managing director of NTDC South, while Bhatti has been invited to join the NTDC lab in Rawat in as chief engineer.

Sources said senior officials, including the outgoing CEO and others, were transferred from headquarters as part of a ministerial investigation into the delay in executing key projects, including the HVDC Matiari transmission line. -Lahore and the North Lahore Substation.

When contacted, a manager declined to comment on the factors behind these transfer assignments as well as the investigation into the delays in executing key projects.

Sources said gross negligence on the part of state-owned NTDC in executing a key power link project has raised a question mark over the business operations of the flagship power transmission lines of the south-north of CPEC as well as related production projects.

NTDC management also delayed the award of the Life Energy Connectivity Project contract for more than two years on a bad premise while extending the validity of the bid guarantee for a 9th time, forcing it to be abandoned. bidders because they lose their financial viability one after the other. .

A senior Energy Ministry official said the delay in awarding the project is an operational level issue. He did not indicate any action on the part of the ministry to remedy the mismanagement of the NTDC tender award process.

NTDC management criticized the slowness of the land acquisition process for not awarding the contract for the power link project.

The NTDC spokesperson said that the procurement for the northern Lahore substation and the extension works in Ghakkar was started well on time in December 2018 on the basis of an international tender with the agreement and coordination of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the financing agency. However, later the bidding process ran into difficulties due to unforeseen events such as the unavailability of land and ongoing litigation in the Lahore High Court from the landowners. land tenure, which remained in abeyance for two years, subsequently delaying the issuance of a letter of no objection from the ADB. The spokesperson said COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the performance of all sectors and has had a direct or indirect impact on the resolution of outstanding issues. It turned out that all delaying events were unforeseen and beyond the control of NTDC. NTDC has made every effort to achieve the objectives of the project despite the severe suffering of COVID-19 in terms of the loss of irreplaceable human capital. In fact, NTDC had issued a tender, completed the whole process of evaluating the bids, however, due to the circumstances, the procurement process could not be completed.

Sources said the energy ministry is in deep sleep. The delay will have a catastrophic cascading effect on the national grid, rendering South-North high voltage transmission lines underutilized in addition to hampering the commercial launch of several key power generation projects, requiring evacuation of electricity. electricity.

When NTDC put out a tender for the construction of the project in December 2018, it seemed an easy bet to complete the whole process by around mid-2019. However, with fingers crossed, NTDC management continues to spin the case under one pretext or another and refuses to give a green signal to the successful bidder while the Federal Ministry of Energy acts as a silent spectator. In this hectic ‘inactivity’, the project remains behind schedule and has yet to be awarded – even after a floating tender two and a half years ago.

Regarding the increase in equipment and labor costs due to inflation, the NTDC spokesperson said that it should be clarified that most commercial contracts of such a volume involve price adjustment provisions in addition to exchange rate fluctuations, which are applicable in both cases. In addition, new auctions do not necessarily result in higher rates and depend on market conditions. Therefore, at this point, it would be premature to estimate any savings or losses to the business. However, according to sources, the acquisition of land has nothing to do with the process of awarding tenders. You can blame the lack of progress on a certain project on the failure of a land acquisition, but there is no connection between giving a winning party the go ahead and the process of land acquisition. acquisition of land to carry out the project, according to sources.

Due to the delay in commissioning the Matiari-Lahore 660 kV HVDC transmission line project for up to one year, up to Rs 4 billion of losses are likely on a monthly basis due to penalties from various PPIs having a capacity of 4000 MW.

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