The Sunday Leader

CEB Overloaded With Electrical Engineers

  • Corrective measures can make it a profitable organisation

By Camelia Nathaniel

Has the National Salaries & Carder Commission (NSCC) and Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) done their evaluations in a responsible and an accountable manner, especially on power sector project proposals in Sri Lanka? According to reliable sources in the CEB, every power project in Sri Lanka after the 80s has been executed with the use of international soft loans or international funds provided either by the World Bank or Asian

Development Bank. In the recent past massive thermal power projects were initiated by the CEB as a result of obtaining these international loans.

There are however specific organizational structures to be followed when the recruitments and training of the employees are concerned to operate and maintain the respective plants in those projects, subsequent to commissioning. These organizational structures for the power plants have been introduced and implemented on the recommendations of the Project Consultants and the mother companies of the plant manufacturers [Original Equipment Manufacturer OEM] in accordance with the world accepted standards. At the inception of the power projects, those structures have been accepted by the CEB in order to be followed in Sri Lanka as well.

However, according to the Mechanical and Civil Engineers Union it can be seen that, annually the recruitments in CEB for electrical engineers are exceptionally in excess and surplus to that of the actual requirement. A reliable source within the CEB told The Sunday Leader that in order to substantiate and give credibility to these claims and to mislead the NSCC to obtain the approval, the CEB management led by the Deputy General Manager (Personnel), the post exclusively held by an Electrical Engineer, highlighting the requirement to execute thermal power projects and some small scale electrification programs such as ‘Lighting Hambantota’, ‘Lighting Ratnapura’  etc., expeditiously.

They allege that excess recruitment of those electrical engineers is being posted by making major distortions to the organizational structures proposed according to the world accepted norms.

“This high handed act of CEB will become a burden on GOSL as it is the practice of NSCC to recommend these proposals without doing proper analysis or evaluation based on scientific human resources management principles,” said one of the members of the Mechanical and Civil Engineers Union who did not wish to be named.

He said that when Electrical Engineers recruited to the CEB outnumber the rest, the CEB management curtailed the recruitments of Civil and Mechanical Engineers who are equally needed in executing Power sector projects. The lack of Civil and Mechanical Engineers in Power projects has led to various deficiencies within the system and are also being experienced now in various projects which could have been minimized otherwise.

However, the mechanical and civil engineers charge that in each and every proposal forwarded by the CEB management for the recruitment of electrical engineers, the NSCC has neither looked into employees’ organizational structures of the approved projects nor had measures been taken to study or educate their staff to enable them to analyse the project proposals properly. Had the NSCC taken corrective measures to guide the CEB in the past, CEB would have been transformed into a profitable and leading organization in the country, contributing substantial profits to the national coffers, they claim.

The mechanical and civil engineers also charge that the CEB never ever has a proper Corporate Plan, in which should be included the list of consecutive Annual Human Resource requirements in a rolling plan every five year term. In the absence of such a plan they say, the current strength of an overwhelming number of 700 electrical engineers are currently serving within the CEB.

If the CEB had a plan based on the actual requirement, charge the Mechanical and Civil Engineers the ad hoc changes taking place would have been avoided without burdening the CEB budget. The method followed by CEB at present in the absence of a plan, makes it easier to mislead and pursue the NSCC and Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) to recruit only electrical engineers with inflated figures to improve and maintain their bargaining power in a form of a mafia culture. This pathetic situation could not be seen in any other country in the world except in CEB in Sri Lanka, charge the mechanical and civil engineers.

Due to this situation created by the extremist group of electrical engineers, the CEB would not be transformed from its lethargic operational strategy to a present day advanced organization due to the adamant activities of extremists who are driving the nails into the head of this organization causing billions of rupees in losses to the nation.
Therefore, it is crystal clear they warn, that if drastic, appropriate measures are not be taken by the responsible institutions in the country such as COPE, Treasury and NSCC etc. with the understanding of the top level policy makers and leaders, it is inevitable that the country will face severe consequences.

One of the mechanical engineers told The Sunday Leader that according to the vacancies within the CEB the cadre needed to be increased only by around 40 to 50. However the management itself which comprises electrical engineers in almost all of its top positions exaggerate the requirement of electrical engineers and make provisions to recruit more of them into the CEB.

The mechanical and civil engineers further charge that one such example is the Norochcholai coal power station where, when it was headed by a mechanical engineer, there were hardly any issues that were not addressed and rectified. However, now that he (the mechanical engineer) has been replaced by an electrical engineer, the boiler is leaking from around eleven places and nothing is being done about it.

“It is a shame that when Norochcholai has the capacity to currently produce 300 MW of power to the National Grid, only a mere 180 MW is being generated due to the disfunctioning of this power station, and instead the power requirement is being met using thermal power, which is costlier,” he charged.

The question that comes to mind however is why the authorities nor the ministry is addressing these issues that is evidently plaguing the power sector. Is it that these discrepancies are being ignored deliberately in order to maintain the supremacy of the electrical engineers within the CEB?

Meanwhile The Sunday Leader spoke to the Additional General Manager of the CEB M. C. Wickremasekera who vehemently denied the allegations and maintained that the recruitments are carried out according to the requirements of the CEB.

“The CEB as the name suggests is made up of mainly electrical engineers who specialise in the specific area of electricity, so it is natural that we have more electrical engineers than other engineers. I really don’t understand what these allegations are. Whenever there has been a need for mechanical or civil engineers we have recruited them and they are working within the CEB. For example at power stations we have a requirement for mechanical engineers and accordingly we have recruited these mechanical engineers to fulfil these vacancies.

The CEB has so many divisions and depending on the requirement we decide on the cadre and we recruit,” he said.
Responding to the allegations pertaining to Norochcholai plant, Wickremasekera said that the leakage of the boiler could happen irrespective of whether an electrical engineer or mechanical engineer is in command.

“Upto a few weeks back it was a mechanical engineer who was in charge of Norochcholai, and if there is a fault in the boiler then it is the responsibility of the mechanical engineer. However I cannot precisely say or deny the number of places that is leaking in the boiler. However these are things that happen regularly at any power station irrespective of who is in charge.

No one can prevent these breakdowns from taking place whether an electrical engineer or mechanical engineer is in charge. Therefore what needs to be done is for the plant to be shut down and attend to the small running maintenance, due to the fact that this coal power station cannot be repaired while it is functioning. But the shutting down of the plant cannot be done as and when we fancy, as there is a proper procedure that has to be followed. Therefore we will wait for an appropriate moment for the plant to be shut down and we will attend to the malfunctions of repairs and maintenance,” he added.

However Wickremasekera acknowledged the fact that the Norochcholai coal power plant was producing only around 180 MW of power currently due to technical issues. “The problem however is minor, but the issue we are facing is the shutting down of the plant in order to carry out the repairs. But we have to, in any case, shut down the plant in order to electrically couple the Phase one and two of the plant. So we are planning on shutting down and attending to all these requirements together,” he said.

 

1 Comment for “CEB Overloaded With Electrical Engineers”

  1. Dammika

    It is a shame how the electrical engineers have ruined CEB. Their generation expansion plan in 1992 contained a lot of Oil based power plants which were constructed by private parties and the fuel bill is killing sri Lankan electricity customers. Now by putting electrical engineers in charge of thermal power plants they are ruining them as well. In a thermal power plant it is 80% mechanical maintenance work. In other countries it is mechanical engineers who run these thermal power plants. Shame on the minister for allowing these things!

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