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Nigeria $1.3 bln Zungeru hydropower project stalled after Chinese stop work over kidnapping

Efforts by the Nigerian government to boost electricity supply in Africa’s largest economy maybe slowed down due to state of insecurity in the country as spate of kidnapping activities has crippled works on the 700-megawatt hydropower project in the north central part of Nigeria.

Reports showed that Chinese contractors have stopped working at the plant located in Zungeru as a result of fear for their safety after gunmen kidnapped three of their colleagues in January, the minister of power said on Thursday.

The Zungeru project is being built in Niger State with $1.3 billion of funding from the China Export and Import Bank. Sino-Hydro is the main contractor.

Armed men kidnapped three Chinese nationals and killed two local staff working on the project in January, police said. There has been no news of them since.

“We are trying to improve on the situation there for them to go back to the site. The Chinese are not working until security challenges are addressed,” the minister, Abubakar Aliyu, told reporters in Abuja.

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He did not say when exactly the contractors stopped working.

The project, which will be the second biggest hydropower plant in Nigeria, was 90 percent complete, Aliyu said. The first of four generators with a 175MW capacity had been expected to be operational during the first quarter of this year.

On Thursday, the Niger state commissioner for security said at least 200 gunmen had been killed in the past three days during a security operation against armed gangs.

Gangs have been terrorising areas of northwestern Nigeria, forcing thousands to flee and carrying out mass kidnappings for ransom.

The government designated the gangs “terrorists” in January, allowing security forces to use maximum force against them. ~Reuters 

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