Power Generation at the 183MW Isimba Hydro Power Plant in Kayunga and Kamuli districts will start in 2016 with the construction of the power project on schedule and 16% of the work completed.
The contractor, China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) while presenting a status report on the project so far told the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Eng. Irene Muloni and Chinese Ambassador to Uganda Mr. Zhao Yali who were on a joint tour and assessment of the project that the work progress was on schedule as planned.
In September 2013, Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development signed a contract with CWE for the construction of Isimba Hydropower plant to generate 183Megga Watts and Isimba –Bujagali interconnection line (132KV) with construction expected to be completed in 40 months since its commissioning by the president Yoweri Museveni in October 2013.
The progress Report on the project indicates that; Feasibility study on geological investigations was undertaken, the Basic Design Engineering report approved, turbine model test approved, hydraulic Model Test approved is complete.
A water treatment plant, power supply system, site hospital, fueling station, explosive magazine, site lab, aggregate crushing system, and batching plant are all complete. Trail blasting at quarry, first stage diversion and foundation excavations are also being implemented.
Commenting of the project, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga was delighted that over 1500 local Ugandans are to directly benefit as employees.
“Kamuli and Kayunga will now become investment destinations for industries and other social benefits, the Ministry of lands and urban development should now start land surveys and demarcation for urbanization in terms of domestic and commercial allocations”, said Kadaga.
Eng. Irene Muloni, Minister of Energy and Mineral development said as government, they were keen to ensure that the progress of the project is not hampered and quality work is done. Muloni said the first turbine will be up and running by the end of December 2016.
“Demand for power is very high, therefore expansion and extension of transmission must be speeded up if the president’s call for value addition and industrialization is to be achieved, “said Muloni.
Muloni also revealed that as government, they had paid the 15% of the government direct funding to the public project which is US D 85,160,849 and are now waiting for the remaining 85% loan financing from Export and Import China Bank (EXIM) which is part of the total USD 600m for the entire project.
“Financing from the EXIM China bank which will contribute the remaining 85% (USD 483,000,000) is yet to be approved by Parliament but as government, we decided to give the contractor our side of the bargain because they needed to order for the turbines which take time to manufacture,” Muloni told the speaker.
The Chinese Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Zhao Yali said he had instructed the Chinese company undertaking the construction works to ensure high quality standards so that the power plant can be efficient and effective for many years to come. Zhao said CWE and Sino-Hydro that is undertaking construction of Karuma power Project (both Chinese companies) have contributed immensely to Ugandan economy through employment, taxes and sharing of knowledge and experiences.
“it is not true that Chinese companies employ only their fellow Chinese, in fact the Ugandans are more than the Chinese, we came here to create job opportunities, said Mr. Zhao.
However, the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga called for more stakeholder engagements for Community Development Action Plans stating that her office had received several complaints from Project Affected Persons and those employed by CWE to work on the project.
“I have received complaints from my people ranging from those who were affected by the project, and workers on the project who say work for seven days a week , they do not have enough have enough protective gear, low wages and language barrier,” said Kadaga.
Kadaga tasked the contractor to come up with a more reasonable wage arrangement for all those they employ, address the issue of language barrier and ensure that there is equity distribution of jobs and any other benefits between Kamuli and Kayunga districts. She also requested the ministry of energy to speed up compensation of project affected persons.
“I have no peace of mind, I cannot now spend a night at my own home because the moment they see me, they come complaining, please work on this issue” Kadaga appealed.
In response, Muloni said 75% of those affected by the project had been compensated and the remaining 15% would be paid soon with the process for payment already underway. 25% of those affected by the Transmission line have been paid and the remaining will all be cleared by April 2015.
Other major projects being undertaken by government are Karumah Hydro Power Project with an installed capacity of 600MW and Ayago Hydro Power Project also producing 600MW. Once completed, the high demand for energy to spur economic growth and development will be on achieved.