NGCP re-assessing COVID-19 impact on key transmission projects

Published September 24, 2020, 1:34 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Private transmission firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is re-evaluating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, primarily on its major projects like the P52 billion Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project.

In a statement to the media, the company said it is “eager to finish its critical projects as close to the original timelines as possible,” hence, it is also appealing to the government if it can be helped on hurdles it has been encountering especially as it resumes construction works at various project sites.

At this stage, NGCP emphasized that it is “continuously assessing the impact of the global health crisis to transmission projects.”

Aside from the MVIP project, the others on its major roll are the Western Luzon Backbone Project; and the 230-kilovolt San Jose-Quezon Line-3 project.

The company said because of the quarantine restrictions being enforced by various local government units (LGUs), “we are constantly trying to balance public health interests by fully equipping our team with complete PPEs and establishing stringent safety protocols in all workplaces.”

Still, NGCP assured government and relevant industry stakeholders that it will be “ramping up construction activities of all vital transmission projects which were affected by the quarantine restrictions imposed in various parts of the country because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

It narrated that at the height of the enforced enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in March to May, it was constrained “to temporarily suspend its construction projects to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.”

And despite the strict lockdowns within those two-month period and the subsequent modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) measures enforced, NGCP emphasized that “grid management and critical maintenance activities, as well as various operations which were critical to the provision of power had continued.”

It said that construction continuation at critical projects kicked off since May 26, even if the country was still at MECQ phase of its lockdown.

“Preparations for this resumption began weeks before that,” the company stressed, and it made sure that it fully complied with the specific guidelines being set out by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the LGUs of their project sites.

“Among the most challenging compliances were the RT-PCR COVID-19 testing of our critical project personnel, and securing the COVID test results of our contractors, as well as facilitating the permits of our key personnel to enter and depart from hotbed areas,” NGCP expounded.

And while its function has been classified as essential services, NGCP indicated that it continued to “encounter issues including testing and quarantine variations among LGUs, contractor and supplier delivery problems, and the inability of foreign experts to conduct necessary inspections due to travel clearance requirements.”

It further cited slowdown of manufacturing of equipment and materials from other COVID-19 countries, among the other limitations that the company had to wade through while navigating project implementation tracks in the midst of the health crisis.