The Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has finally succeeded in importing electrical transformers after previous attempts to procure the essential equipment were stymied for almost two and a half years by constant corruption scandals.
The state-owned power utility has taken delivery of the first batch of 253 transformers from LTL Holding of Sri Lanka with which it has signed a contract to buy 1,040 transformers.
“The first consignment was dispatched two weeks ago,” said Nutan Dev Bhattarai, deputy manager at NEA’s Material Management Division. “These transformers will be distributed in areas which need them urgently.”
Of the total 1,040 transformers ordered, 100 units are of 15 kVA capacity, 225 of 25 kVA capacity, 350 of 50 kVA capacity, 240 of 100 kVA capacity, 100 of 200 kVA capacity and 25 of 300 kVA capacity.
The arrival of the new transformers is likely to make life easier for the NEA which has been having a hard time supplying the scarce equipment to affected areas.
NEA officials said that the country’s transformer requirement had accumulated to 3,500 units as none has been imported for the past two and a half years.
The NEA’s Managing Director Mukesh Kafle said that they had been forced to patch up old transformers due to the unavailability of new equipment which had led to frequent breakdowns causing problems to both the NEA and its customers.
“We didn’t have transformers even for replacement in case of emergency,” Kafle said. “Households in many places had to suffer too as the repair work would take at least two days,” he said, adding that such problems would not emerge now.
As per the agreement with LTL Holding, it is required to deliver all the transformers by March 2015. Shipments have been planned to be made in four phases, with each consignment consisting of 250 to 260 transformers. The first consignment was supposed to arrive in October and the second in December 2014. The third and fourth shipments have been scheduled for delivery in February and March.
The way things have been moving, it is unlikely that the NEA will receive the transformers as per the agreement. “However, the remaining consignments are scheduled to arrive at intervals of two months,” said Bhattarai.
Bhattarai said that the purchase could not be made at the stipulated time due to the delay in appointing inspectors to check the devices. “However, we are hopeful of getting delivery of the entire order within the next five months,” he said.
The transformers have to be first tested at the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) in India before they are transported to Nepal. As per the agreement, such electrical devices should be tested at an international-standard institute. The NEA had become intensely cautious about procuring transformers following a major scam in 2012. An investigation had shown that the transformers imported from China and Thailand were sub-standard. The probe committee had examined 4,657 transformers installed at several stations and sub-stations across the country.
In August 2013, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had arrested 10 serving and retired NEA officials on charges of pocketing money by purchasing shoddy transformers.
The CIAA revealed that the NEA had bought Rs 5 billion worth of sub-standard transformers five times from Shenyang Dongneng Electricity Equipment Co Ltd, Hubei Sunlight Electric Co Ltd and SVR Electrical Pvt Ltd of China.