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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank has asked the National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) to expedite implementation on pending tasks to avoid delay in transmission line projects, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

The Bank’s Country Director to Pakistan, Najy Binhassine, in a letter to the Executive Director for Pakistan, Washington, Syed Tauqeer Hussain Shah, shared report of Implementation Support Mission (i) for the National Transmission Modernization 1 Project (NTMP-1) held from March 6-15, 2024.

The objectives of the mission were to (i) review the status of the NTMP-1 project, including procurement, contract management, financial management, disbursement, and fiduciary reporting; (ii) conduct a three-day workshop with NTDC to discuss the outcomes of the power system studies report prepared by CESI - the consultant; and (iii) provide the necessary support to National Transmission and Despatch Company on the implementation of the project.

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World Bank has also appreciated NTDC’s team and Project Management Unit (PMU) in maintaining steady progress toward the delivery of the NTMP packages. The implementation of all the ongoing contracts is progressing well. Most of them are expected to be completed by this fiscal year, and some of them will be completed by the end of the calendar year. However, there is still delay in closing the award process of the Islamabad West Substation (IWS) package, the largest and most critical package under the project.

During the Mission, a three-day workshop (March 6-8, 2024) was held to discuss the findings and recommendations of a power system study prepared by CESI. The workshop provided NTDC with the opportunity to identify areas for further improvement in the NTDC grid, as well as for improved engagement with the consultant to ensure timely completion of the studies.

The World Bank has asked NTDC to address the following key issues discussed and agreements reached during the Mission meetings and the workshop: (i) - award of Islamabad West (IWS) 765 kV substation contract and approval of revised PCI: After a lot of delay, the NTDC board has approved the award of contract for IWS works to the lowest price bidder subject to the bidder submitting the unconditional commitment letter from a bank for a line of credit (minimum US$3.75 million) to cover the cash flow requirement for this contract. The Mission has advised NTDC to expedite the next procedural steps, including the approval of the revised PC1 for IWS, to allow the start of the implementation works. Any further delay would put the commissioning of the Dasu Hydropower Stage 1 Project and 500 kV Tarbela Transmission Line at risk.

(ii) - Complete the RAP payment for IWS land: Although about 87 per cent compensation has been disbursed to date to 370 landowners (out of 588), 13 per cent compensation still needs to be disbursed to about 218 affected persons. During the Mission, a field trip was conducted to IWS and the Bank team met the Deputy Commissioner (DC) to discuss the RAP payment progress. During the meeting, DC agreed that the remaining payment will be expedited and completed by April 2024.

iii- Resolution of Extension of Time (EoT) claims from Siemens: During the Mission, NTDC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with M/s Siemens to address all outstanding EoT claims for their five contracts, which earlier resulted in Siemens slowing the completion of several projects. Siemens has now assured NTDC that efforts would be made to ensure the completion of all projects. NTDC has been advised to resolve all outstanding EoT claims with Siemens and other contractors and ensure that contractors complete all projects in a timely manner.

(iv) - Unsettled Right of Way (RoW) issue on Nowshera 500 kV Transmission Line: The Mission was informed of the delayed completion of the 10 lm 500 kV Nowshera Transmission Line due to unresolved Right of Way issue on seven towers along the line route. While NTDC is confident that four tower locations will be negotiated and cleared before the end March 2024, three other tower locations are awaiting a court decision. The NTDC has been requested to engage with the land dwellers and resolve all outstanding RoW issue along the transmission line as this line is needed for the evacuation of CASA-1000 project.

(v) - Nomination for Factor Acceptance Test (FAT): Delayed nomination of staff to attend FAT has held up the implementation of several projects, despite the contractors having requested nominations ahead of time. Considering the impact of FAT nominations on the project implementation. The World Bank has urged to provide prompt responses to all FAT nomination requests from the contractors.

World Bank has noted that disbursement from the ERP and IT modernization project are slow, adding that while physical work is progressing well, disbursement from this activity is lagging. The Mission has suggested NTDC to review the terms of payment of each contract under this activity and monitor the monthly disbursement payment plan till June 2024 against each physical milestone.

The World Bank Mission has further stated that there is need for improved collaboration between NTDC and consultant on the power system study. According to the Bank, two areas of collaboration between NTDC and consultant CESI are the completion of the sections on “protection system coordination” and “Free Governor Mode Operations” in the report. The NTDC agreed to nominate dedicated engineers to work with the consultant in closing all open-ended issues in these two areas to ensure early completion of the report, while the consultant assured the Mission that they would seek to submit the reactive management plan of the report soon.

Chairman, Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has also held a meeting with the newly-appointed Minister for Power, Sardar Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, and sought his help to expedite work on transmission lines to evacuate power from new projects.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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