Grid operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines asked for government support in the face of hurdles in constructing transmission projects affected by the quarantine restrictions imposed in several parts of the country.
NGCP in a statement assured stakeholders it was exerting all efforts to push vital projects forward “and avert all avoidable delays.”
“We are thankful and grateful for all the local and national government support we have received so far, but we are again asking for further support, especially as regards the entry of foreign consultants and the rationalization of quarantine restrictions for critical personnel, to further mitigate delays,” NGCP said.
NGCP said despite being declared part of essential services, it continued to encounter issues including testing and quarantine variations among local government units, contractor and supplier delivery problems, inability of foreign experts to conduct necessary inspections due to travel clearance requirements, slowdown of manufacturing of equipment and materials from other COVID-19 affected countries and other limitations.
The company said the staggered relaxation of quarantine regulations, even those related to essential industries and construction, had not yet allowed the company to fully “return to work” for construction projects. It said restrictions were eased but not fully removed.
NGCP said construction works did not resume in full due to health and safety protocols and new normal standards, including COVID-19 testing of all manpower, access to transport and mobility issues and government-mandated manpower limitations.
“NGCP is eager to finish its critical projects as close to the original timelines as possible. We are also fully cognizant of the need to restrict movement and activities to help stem the spread of the virus. 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, with the economic need to complete these critical activities,” NGCP said.
The company said it was assessing the impact of the global health crisis to transmission projects, particularly to the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project, Western Luzon Backbone project and San Jose-Quezon 230kiloVolt (kV) Line 3 project.
“Project schedules are continually reassessed as varying degrees of community quarantine remain in effect… Even today, with the limitations on travel and manpower restricted to 50 percent of the workplace capacity, construction activities have not resumed to 100 percent of their pre-quarantine pace,” said NGCP.
It said work completed in a single ‘pre-COVID-19 month’ takes longer now with projected completion within at least two to four ‘quarantine months.’
NGCP said that if a project was set to be completed within four months from March (beginning of quarantine measures), the new estimated time of completion would be moved 8 to 16 months from the original completion target.
“These targets continue to move as we remain bound by health and safety considerations,” the company said.