The launch of the 600 MW Karuma Hydropower Dam has been delayed again.
The Uganda Electricity Generation Company (UEGCL) has announced they will now commission the hydro-electric power dam in June next year.
The dam, which was built by Sino-hydro Corporation, and whose commissioning has been extended more than twice, is planned for launch on June 22, 2022.
The delayed launching of the power dam had previously triggered friction between the builders and government that is paying 15 per cent of the $1.7 billion (Shs6 trillion) with the rest of the cash coming from Exim Bank through a soft loan from the Chinese government.
The first completion date was set for December 31, 2019, but was extended to November 30, 2020.
The latest launch date was announced on Thursday by the board’s chairperson, Ms Proscovia Margret Njuki, following a tour of the dam.
“The contractor has rectified most of the faults that had been identified and we are now happy with the wiring system and cables they have put in,” Ms Njuki said.
Over the years, UEGCL has blamed the persistent delays to commission Karuma dam on procurement hurdles, delays by government to hand over land for the project, and hostile weather, including torrential rain, which slowed down some of the construction works.
Recently, UEGCL attributed the new delays to discrepancies in electromechanical installations such as electric cables, wiring system in the tunnels and the fire extinguishing system which now they say are now being fixed.
“These were very minor issues but you have to put these guys under pressure all the time to see that they deliver quality work, “Mr Harrison Mutikanga, the UEGCL chief executive, said.
In the recent Auditor General’s report, it was indicated that Karuma was one of the projects that were adversely affected by land compensation challenges, which in the process affects the project implementation.
The Karuma dam transmission lines, the Audit General pointed out, also created land compensation challenges, which in addition to dam construction delays, affected the commissioning of the dam.
Although they are certain about the commissioning of Karuma, Mr Mukitanga wasn’t certain about the timetable they will follow to test-run the dam.
“We shall talk to the contractor and then we shall draw up a timetable for that but we think we shall be able to do that this year,” Mr Mukitanga said.
Once commissioned, Karuma is expected to feed into the 2023 Uganda’s target of having 1,300 MW installed capacity of electricity.
But the construction of the power dam has been far from smooth, with President Museveni ordering Energy minister Irene Muloni to suspend three top government engineers to pave way for an investigation into shoddy work in the construction of Karuma and Isimba dams.
There were also reported cracks on the dam’s spillway walls, but this has reportedly been rectified.