Tender to procure new transformer sets within a week: NEA chief

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    KATHMANDU, SEP 22 –

    TransformerThe Nepal Electricity Authority ( NEA ) has finally begun the process of purchasing new sets of transformers amid aggravating situation due to the lack of new devices to replace old, dysfunctional ones.

    NEA Managing Director Arjun Karki said the authority is undergoing preparations to purchase the required number of transformers through international bidding. He said the tender will be floated within a week.

    The fresh move to purchase new transformers comes after a major crack down by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on anomalies in previous purchases of transformers.

    Despite the problems in power supply such as blackouts in major areas of the Kathmandu valley, including New Baneshwor and Durbarmarg, the state-owned power monopoly had shown little interest to procure new transformers fearing a “possible intervention” from the anti-graft body.

    The anti-graft body has arrested 22 NEA officials, including former managing director Rameshwor Yadav, in connection with the multi-million rupee transformer scam. The case is currently under the court’s consideration.

    The NEA initiated the homework to purchase new transformers after the CIAA directed it to carry on with its usual work. Also a week ago, the Ministry of Energy (MoE) had asked the NEA to begin the process of purchasing new transformers.

    Energy Secretary Bishwo Prakash Pandit said the MoE had recommended the NEA to purchase transformers through either national competitive bidding (NCB) or international competitive bidding (ICB) or through both of them by fulfilling due legal procedures. “As Nepali contractors alone cannot supply the required number of the power sets, we have asked the NEA to find suitable alternatives at the earliest so as to prevent further chaos which would derail the whole power sector,” he said.

    Upendra Dev Bhatta, chief of distribution and consumer service (DCS) at the NEA , said the tender will be floated after assessing the actual number of transformers needed. He said the NEA will soon begin the process of repairing the damaged devices.

    “We are conducting a study to assess how many of NEA ’s transformers are damaged, and how many of them can be repaired and put into operation,” he said. “This will help us assess the actual number of transformers to be purchased.” He said the final report of the study will be prepared within the next three days and the NEA will float the tender.

    However, the NEA has not shown any interest in responding to a Chinese company’s offer to replace the transformers that were found to be of substandard quality. The Hu Bei Sunlight Electric Co, one of the suppliers of power transformers to Nepal, which were found to be malfunctioning, has offered to replace them.

    The company sent a letter to the NEA on Aug 20, admitting responsibility for supplying shoddy transformers, and promising to dispatch 1,940 new sets to replace them unconditionally.

    The NEA has so far not responded to the company, stating that it cannot give any decision while the transformer related case is under the CIAA’s and the court’s purview. CIAA Spokesperson Shreedhar Sapkota, blamed the NEA officials of being irresponsible for delaying basic works. “We have never hindered the NEA from doing its usual job,” he said, “It can perform all desired works without fearing the CIAA, provided the works are done fairly.”

    Source : The Kathmandu Post