APUA ducking on ‘new’ plant

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – APUA’s Electricity Division Manager Lyndon Francis yesterday flatly turned down an OBSERVER request to facilitate a meeting or interview with a representative of the German company that manufactures the electricity generators used in the new power plant, who is currently on island.

The representative, who is due to leave today, reportedly arrived here Tuesday on a fact-finding visit aimed at safeguarding his firm’s integrity and international reputation.

In recent weeks, there has been a mounting chorus of claims that the Chinese-supplied MAN engines for the 30-megawatt power plant do not appear to be new as touted by the authorities when the facility was officially opened late last year.

The equipment is believed to have been manufactured in China under license from MAN, from which permission first had to be obtained in the event of the Chinese exporting any of the licensed machinery outside their domestic market.

The representative, whose name sounded something like “Anthoniza,” has been meeting with Francis and other APUA officials with a view to ascertaining the true age and quality of the six generators and associated engines, each with an individual output of five megawatts.

MAN is thought to be concerned about the allegations surrounding the generators exported from China to Antigua because of the potential for damage to its brand image and the worldwide reputation that its products have when it comes to quality and sophistication – things that have made MAN a global market leader.

OBSERVER Radio attempted to get in touch with “Anthoniza” for an interview through his APUA hosts, but when contacted Francis refused to even consider putting this reporter in touch with the MAN representative or facilitate a meeting with him or to supply any contact information whereby he could be reached.

Several calls to APUA’s general manager Esworth Martin went unanswered yesterday, as before, and he also did not reply to numerous voicemail and text messages left at his number.

Martin is also yet to respond to an OBSERVER Media request (submitted by letter last Friday) for a tour of the Crabbs power plant in order to obtain a firsthand view of the equipment.

OBSERVER has proposed the inclusion of two independent private engineers as part of its touring team in order to have the benefit of expert appraisal.

There has also been no reply from the Prime Minister’s Office to a written request by OBSERVER for a copy of the contract document between APUA and the Chinese construction company that built the power plant over which so many questions are now being raised.

That Freedom of Information request was addressed to the Prime Minister’s Permanent Secretary, Paula Frederick, on January 4, 2012.

So far, there has been no return communication, even to acknowledge receipt of the OBSERVER missive.

The letter was penned after having no success in obtaining the information via direct appeals to APUA’s chairman Clarvis Joseph, General Manager Esworth Martin, Ambassador David Shoul (who negotiated the power plant deal with China on behalf of Antigua & Barbuda) and Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, who holds the Cabinet portfolio for APUA.


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