THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s power grid operator, is now ramping up construction activities of all vital transmission projects which were affected by the quarantine restrictions imposed on various parts of the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a statement it sent to the media on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, the NGCP said at the height of the nationwide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), it was constrained to temporarily suspend its construction projects to ensure compliance with health and safety regulations.
Grid management and critical maintenance activities, as well as various operations which were critical to the provision of power, however, continued despite strict lockdowns.
It said the lifting of the ECQ on May 16, and the easing of cross municipal border restrictions allowed the NGCP to gradually resume construction work.
The NGCP said it started the resumption of critical projects as early as May 26, even though the country was still in modified ECQ while preparations for this resumption began weeks before that. Compliance with Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases-issued and local government unit (LGU)-specific guidelines needed to be in place before it could ramp up NGCP’s project activities.
A challenging compliance, the company said, was the RT-PCR Covid testing of their critical project personnel, and securing the Covid-19 test results of its contractors, as well as facilitating the permits for key personnel to and from hotbed areas.
Despite being declared part of essential services, NGCP said it continues to encounter issues including testing and quarantine protocol variations among LGUs, 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 NGCP said the relaxation of quarantine regulations, even those related to essential industries and construction, has not yet allowed NGCP to fully “return to work” for its construction projects. Restrictions were eased but not fully removed.
It said it is continuously assessing the impact of the global health crisis to transmission projects, particularly to the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP), Western Luzon Backbone project and San Jose-Quezon 230-kilovolt Line 3 project, among others.
The NGCP then said it is eager to finish its critical projects as close to the original timelines as possible as they are also constantly trying to balance public health interests by fully equipping its team with complete personal protective equipment and establishing stringent safety protocol in all workplaces.
Work completed in a single “pre-Covid-19 month” is now projected for completion within at least two up to four “quarantine months,” the NGCP said.
These targets, the NGCP said, continue to move as they remain bound by health and safety considerations. It, however, assured its stakeholders that is is exerting all efforts to push vital projects forward and avert all avoidable delays.
It also asked for further support from public officials concerned, especially as regards the entry of foreign consultants and the rationalization of quarantine restrictions for critical personnel, to further mitigate delays.
The NGCP is a Filipino-led, privately owned company in charge of operating, maintaining and developing the country’s power grid, led by majority shareholders and vice chairman of the board Henry Sy Jr. and co-vice chairman Robert Coyiuto Jr. (WBS with PR)