Government intervention needed to help end Zamboanga City’s power problem – Lobregat

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Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat has called on the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to intervene in the investment management contract being bid out by debt-ridden Zamboanga Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco).

In media interviews, Lobregat said NEA’s intervention would help ensure the total rehabilitation of Zamcelco, especially its debts, which reportedly has ballooned to about P 2 billion pesos.

“I believe NEA should come in already because this will be a long process. NEA should come in and maybe NEA should be the one to handle the bidding process,” Lobregat said.

He said the continued deterioration of Zamcelco will not only contribute to higher power rates in the city, but also disruptions in the power supply among residents and businesses there.

Lobregat insisted that whoever gets the Zamcelco’s IMC should not only have the financial capability, but also the experience in power distribution.

He said: “What is important to me is that the contract is awarded to a company that has experience in power distribution, and will not treat the process as an experiment to lower or manage the system loss.”

As it stands, Lobregat said the people of Zamboanga are already paying the maximum 12 percent systems loss due to Zamcelco’s mismanagement. Even with that, he said Zamcelco continues to incur financial losses because its actual systems loss stands at 24 percent.

Zamboanga opinion maker Rod Balbon echoed Lobregat’s sentiment. He said of all the companies bidding for the IMC, only two have actual experience in power distribution, namely Meralco-Comtech and Aboitiz Power Corporation.

He said the other bidder, Crown Investment, is owned by Party List PACMAN Congressman Mikee Romero, who is primarily engaged in port operations. The other prospective bidders are into power generation.

“Zamcelco officials should be wary and should not entertain potential IMC partners with very little experience and a questionable track record in power distribution. Partners such as this may lead to a situation where Zamcelco’s massive problems will not be solved but will only make its financial situation graver and incurable,” Balbon warned.

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