VRA out! Government to engage third party to manage Ameri plant despite first failed attempt
It has emerged government will go ahead to find a third party to operate and maintain the 250-megawatt Ameri power plant as cabinet has resolved to wean the Volta River Authority (VRA) off thermal plant operations.
The first attempt by the government, which criticised the 510 million-dollar deal while in opposition, hit a snag culminating in the removal of the Energy Minister Boakye Agyarko last Monday.
Government was forced to abandon its attemptto hand over the plant, which is due to become the property of Ghana in about three years, from Ameri to Mytilineos for the next 15 years, which critics said was going to cost the nation in excess of one billion dollars.
The VRA, which is a party to the current Ameri agreement and offering expertise to the operators, is hopeful the plant will be handed to it to operate and maintain when it becomes the property of the state.
Senior Staff Association of the VRA say they have the competence in operating the plant, arguing their expertise in thermal plant management cannot be questioned as they have demonstrated that over the years.
But General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party John Boadu who sits in cabinet meetings, revealed on TV3 New Day that Cabinet has resolved to wean the VRA off thermal plant management hence the need to find a capable company to man the plant at Aboadze.
“Even if we own it, we still based on cabinet decision of weaning off VRA to concentrate on hydro production and getting [it] off thermal production,” Mr. Boadu said on Tuesday.
He added: “What it means is that we [government] must be able to get a third party that has the capacity and ability to run the thermal production,” indicating it “comes with a cost”.
Mr. Boadu said finding a company to handle the thermal plant will not be free as government will have to pay for the operational and maintenance cost.
“You will not get operations and maintenance for free; you have to pay for it. Even the assets must be managed in a manner that will generate the needed kilowatts we need per a period of time so it is not as if when you decide to maintain it, cost comes to zero to us,” he stated.
He explained the decision to renegotiated Ameri deal was necessitated by the need to reduce cost and its impact on the country’s budget, but lack of communication resulted in the criticisms that greeted the deal leading to it being withdrawn by the President.
“We were looking at alternative ways of reducing not just the amount but the impact on our budget.That is the attempt that the Energy Ministry wanted to resolve but for lack of effective communication… members on our side even kicked against,” he said.