The Mt Coffee Hydropower Plant was brought into commission in 1967 and successfully generated approximately 20% of Liberia’s total electricity requirements for twenty three years before civil war broke out. Liberia underwent two devastating civil wars between 1989 and 2003. Around 200,000 people lost their lives and the country was left in ruins.
Early in the first war rebel forces seized the Mt. Coffee plant, drove the operators away and all hydro generation was terminated. This occurred during one of the months of highest rain fall, August 1990. With no personnel available to operate the spillway gates to release the incoming floods the water level increased. Ultimately, this led to a dam breach and erosion of one of the earth embankments occurred to bed rock over a distance of around 180m, flooding the powerhouse.
In the following years, the plant was looted of practically all the power generation equipment, the majority of the hydraulic steelworks, and all the non embedded equipment. Before the civil wars, the national power utility, Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) generated around 200MW from hydropower, heavy fuel oil and diesel generators. Liberia’s electricity infrastructure was almost entirely destroyed during the conflict. Under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, efforts have been underway since 2006 to restore LEC, the Monrovia grid and rebuild the Mt. Coffee Power Plant.
This editorial provides insights into the particular challenges faced by the delivery teams both from a technical and construction supervision aspect during the rehabilitation of the project. The devastating 2104 Ebola outbreak put the delivery schedule under additional pressure in a country that is still trying to rebuild itself from two crippling civil wars.