ARUA —The Minister of Energy and Mineral Developments, Ruth Nankabirwa has assured the country that the construction of the 600MW Karuma Hydro Power Plant will be completed and ready for commissioning mid next year.
Ms Nankabirwa was also happy to note that the contractor is now rectifying – especially the cabling following defects which were discovered by independent evaluators deployed by President Museveni.
The supervising consultant has since been replaced and the contractor was compelled to fix all the identified defects and gaps on the multi- million US dollar power plant -which will be the biggest in Uganda.
Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd, a Chinese company, is constructing the power plant.
“I have come here to see the defects we have been reading about. The work is huge. Initially, the contractor bundled all the cables together. Staff houses were supposed to be ready before construction of the dam started, but they are not yet ready , Nankabirwa told journalists at the project site.
Eng. Irene Bateebe, the new Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy, blamed the first owner’s engineer (consulting engineer for government) for failing to investigate , verify and certify the work done.
“At the inception of the project, the owner’s engineer did not do a good job. We got a better company that investigated the defects and we are now confident we shall commission this project in June 2022,” she said.
Mr Albert Byaruhanga, the project manager told the minister that the defects include mechanical installations, electrical cables, and general cabling where some cables do not meet contract specifications and international standards.
The contractor is now installing new quality cables with the required specifications- on a project that will boost power supply in Uganda and enable the ministry of Energy through its electricity agencies -the Uganda Electricity Generation Company limited (UEGCL) and Uganda Electricity Transmission Company limited (UETCL) to evacuate power to the most needy regions -especially West Nile.
UGCL and UTCL are headed by Dr. Eng Harrison E. Mutikanga and Mr. George Rwabajungu, respectively. The two senior technical officials led their respective teams to explain to the Minister -the national developments in the energy sector.
Nankabirwa instructed the contractor to bring in more engineers to ensure the commissioning of the Karuma Power Plant next year is not delayed any further.
“We must deliver this dam to the Ugandan people as promised and with all defects rectified . We must energize all the transmission lines that have been erected ,” Nankabirwa whom the area MPs said had energized the locals with her zeal for service delivery -stated.
The new Energy Minister Hon. Nankabirwa was this week inspecting the government funded energy projects in Acholi and West Nile regions.
Nankabirwa emphasized the point that government was committed to have the Karuma HPP up and running mid next year together with the evacuation transmission lines connecting to Lira Substation, Olwiyo Susbtation , Arua substation and Kawanda Substation.
“The Olwiyo substation has been developed with capacity to accommodate planned developments at Ayago, Oryang and Kiba. The substation is also to be connected to Gulu and Elegu Substation, then to South Sudan. It will serve the West Nile Region, through transmission lines to Pakwach, Arua, Paidha and the rest of the region, “ Nankabirwa told the residents at Purongo Primary School in Nwoya district and the Arua MPs and district leaders in Arua city.
She was accompanied on this stakeholder engagement by the State Minister for Minerals Hon. Peter Lokeris , Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako the CEO , Electricity Regulation Authority (ERA) and Dr.Eng. Badru Kiggundu the Chairman of the Karuma Porject-Presidential Steering Committee.
Hon .Nankabirwa noted that when Karuma is added on the national grid there will be stabilization of power supply to the Northern Region and socio –economic transformation realised.
“The government of Uganda is fully aware of the potential in the region, including Tourism, Agriculture and cross border trade, which can only be harnessed with stable and adequate power supply.”
The Minister urged the area leaders including Members of Parliament to sensitize the people about power generation, transmission and distribution- so that they appreciate and understand what government is doing for them, own and protect the electricity infrastructure from vandalism -across the country.
Ministry of Energy Achievements;
The notable achievements include; the increment in the Installed Capacity from 380 MW in 2000 to the current 1,269.1 MW, the Transmission network length growing from 730 km to 3,100.5 km, Access to Clean Energy growing from 10% to 50%, an Off-Peak Tariff for Industrial Consumers of US Cents 5, and Uganda’s Electricity Regulatory Framework being ranked Number 1 on the continent for Three (3) consecutive times, in the Electricity Regulatory Index of the African Development Bank released in 2018, 2019 and 2020.