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ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) has asked the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) to approach the ministries of Water Resources and Finance for allocation of Rs80 billion in the budget for the rehabilitation of Tunnel 5 gates of Tarbela Dam as it may incur huge penalties if payments to the contractors are delayed.

World Bank’s Country Director Najy Benhassine, in a letter to Wapda Chairman Sajjad Ghani and NTDC Managing Director Rana Abdul Jabbar, has stated that the current closing dates of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) LN 86460 and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) loan LN 0005-PAK, which are financing T5HP, are May 31, 2024 and June 30, 2025, respectively. According to the Mission, the Wapda plans to extend the closing dates for these loans to match the current construction timelines.

The World Bank has requested Wapda to follow up with MoWR and MOEA to ensure that the World Bank is informed of the government’s decision to extend the closing date of the IBRD loan by April 10, 2024.

WB VP visits Tarbela, Dasu hydropower projects

According to the World Bank, the Wapda has continually emphasised that the contractors, Power Construction Corporation of China Limited (PCCCL) for the civil works and Harbin Electric International Company/Harbin Electric Machinery Company (HEI/HEC) for the electromechanical works, should commission all three units of T5HP by September 2025. The PCCCL must complete the work on raised intakes of Tunnel 5 by May 2027. All conditions for the contractors to implement their work in accordance with the revised project schedules and inter-contact milestones have been fulfilled.

According to the revised schedules, the contractors must make Tunnel 5 available for releasing water by June 2025.

“PCCCL must improve its progress. PCCCL remains behind schedule on all works sites - intake, Tunnel 5, penstock, powerhouse, tailrace, and switchyard. Particularly concerning is the delay in the works inside Tunnel 5 for connecting it with the raised intake,” the bank said, adding that this work is on the critical path. The construction progress and resource mobilisation by the PCCCL is inadequate. The PCCCL has not been able to justify the delays and is at risk of facing claims and liquidated damages in accordance with the contract.

The World Bank has requested the Wapda to pass through any valid claims from HEI/HEC related to delays in inter-contract milestones to the PCCCL. The World Bank has also requested Wapda management to continue discussions with PCCCL management and obtain a recovery plan and firm commitment from PCCCL to meet the contract schedule.

The Mission requested Wapda to instruct HEI/HEC to deliver the electro-mechanical equipment as scheduled and store them in warehouses in Tarbela. The HEC/HEI should continue to follow the contract schedule and the supply of the equipment by them must not be interrupted by the delays in the civil works by PCCCL. Most of the equipment from HEI/HEC is scheduled for delivery between 2024 and the first half of 2025.

On the rehabilitation of Tunnel 5 Gates, the World Bank Pakistan chief is of the view that the contractors have missed their agreed deadline to provide an estimate for the rehabilitation of Tunnel 5 Gates by March 1, 2024. “We request Wapda to follow up with the contractors and issue instructions to them to provide their plan and estimate for rehabilitation works.” Rehabilitation work is a parallel activity and is not expected to affect T5HP PIU, Wapda will require the equivalent of Rs 18 billion between January to July 2024, and the equivalent of Rs 60 billion from August 2024 to June 2025 for the ongoing construction of T5HP.

In this regard, the WB has requested Wapda to share the budget requirement with the Ministry of Power Resources and the Ministry of Finance as it may incur large penalties if payments to the contractors are delayed.

On the Tarbela 500 kV double circuit transmission line (T5TL), the WB has stated that the contract for T5TL for the connections of T5HP with Islamabad West Substation and T1–T4 switchyard is currently under implementation.

The contractor must complete the works by November 2024 as per the contract and T1-T4 switchyard; and towers in Ghazi and Hazro districts.

The WB has requested the NTDC to; (i) ensure the resolution of Right–of–Way (RoW) issues, particularly in areas under planned housing societies, so that route alignment of the T5TL remains substantially unchanged;(ii) instruct the contractor, Netracon Technologies to accelerate its work on foundations and tower installation to recover from past delays and complete T5TL on schedule; (iii) ensure continued compliance with the Resettlement Action Plan (RAC) T5TL as work on tower foundation, installation and line stringing are progressing; and (iv) award the contract for the construction of Islamabad West Substation (IWS) promptly, as its timely completion is crucial for commissioning T5TL and evacuating power from T5HP.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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