Antigua to consider request for probe of controversial Chinese power plant
Amid mounting pressure and the prospect of street protests, the Antigua government yesterday announced that it had set up a ministerial sub-committee to consider a request by the opposition Antigua Labour Party (ALP) for a probe into the controversial Chinese built US$47M Wadadli Power Plant.
Numerous questions have been raised in Antigua over whether value for money has been obtained for this project and whether old Chinese engines had been used in the plant. It is another in a series of projects by Chinese companies in the Caribbean that have encountered stormy waters. In Guyana, many questions have been raised about the competence of the Chinese company that built the pricy Skeldon factory and several major projects here and in Jamaica have attracted negative comments over the violation of procurement procedures.
The Baldwin Spencer administration in Antigua has come under unrelenting pressure to mount a probe of the plant which was not functioning in recent weeks because of the lack of money for maintenance.
A release yesterday from the Antigua PM’s office said
“Cabinet, during the weekly meeting on Tuesday, July 3, appointed a Ministerial Sub-Committee to consider a letter sent by the Parliamentary Representative for St. John’s City Gaston Browne, which asked Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer to conduct an investigation into the Wadadli Power Plant.
“The Ministerial Sub-Committee is comprised of Minister of Education, Gender, Sports and Youth Affairs Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro, Minister of National Security and Labour Dr. Errol Cort and Minister of Finance, the Economy and Public Administration Harold Lovell.
“The role of the Ministerial Sub-Committee is to study Mr. Browne’s letter and to make recommendations to Cabinet.
“The Ministerial Sub-Committee has 14 days to fulfill its mandate.” Browne, Chairman of the ALP, this week threatened to lead street protests in Antigua over the plant.
The Antigua Observer reported Brown on July 4th as saying “The ALP is not prepared to sit down and allow the prime minister to sweep this issue under the carpet. We will definitely demonstrate to force an investigation, and the investigation that we will push for will be a Commission of Inquiry”.
Browne gave Spencer until yesterday to make a decision and it was yesterday that the statement was issued by Baldwin’s office over the ministerial sub-committee.
The plant, opened last September, has been mired in controversy ever since.
In an interview with the Antigua Observer on June 25, Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Electricity Manager, Lyndon Francis, said that while financial and technical challenges forced a temporary shut-down of up to five of the six engines, the company has the capacity to effectively manage the facility in the long term.
The engines were down during the period April 7 to May 26 this year, causing the company to rely more on private provider Antigua Power Company.