As the country’s power grid operator, NGCP is 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.
At the height of the nationwide Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ), NGCP 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, continued despite strict lockdowns.
The lifting of the ECQ on May 16, and the easing of cross municipal border restrictions allowed NGCP to gradually resume construction work.
“We started the resumption of critical projects as early as May 26, even though the country was still in MECQ. Preparations for this resumption began weeks before that. Compliance with IATF and LGU-specific guidelines needed to be in place before we could ramp up our project activities. Among the most challenging compliances were the RT-PCR COVID testing of our critical project personnel, and securing the COVID test results of our contractors, as well as facilitating the permits to enter of key personnel to and from hotbed areas,” the company said in a press statement.
Despite being declared part of essential services, NGCP continues to encounter issues including testing and quarantine 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 staggered 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.
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 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 230kiloVolt (kV) Line 3 project, among others.
“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,” the firm said.
“Project schedules are continually reassessed as varying degrees of community quarantine remain in effect. The time lost is not a simple 1 is to 1 conversion. Even today, with the limitations on travel and manpower restricted to 50% of the workplace capacity, construction activities have not resumed to 100% of their pre-quarantine pace,” explained NGCP. “Work completed in a single ‘pre-COVID-19 month’ is now projected for completion within at least 2 up to 4 ‘quarantine months.’ This means that if a project was set to be completed within 4 months from March 2020 (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 added.
“We assure our stakeholders that NGCP is exerting all efforts to push these vital projects forward and avert all avoidable delays,” NGCP stated. “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 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.