The contractors of Karuma Hydropower project have so far complied with environmental management guidelines, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) has said.
Ms Leila Akello Gonasa, NEMA Focal person for Karuma Hydro power project, said Sinohydro Corporation Limited, the contractor, has so far done the best job.
“The contractor has improved in compliance and right now we are talking of 78 to 80 percent compliance. Remember others are struggling with compliance status like someone who is doing very well is less than 60 per cent but for these guys it is perfect for us,” Ms Akello told journalists during an environmental impact assessment and monitoring held at the site in Kiryandongo district on Monday.
However, she said that much as treatment of effluents and sedimentation from pressure ponds have improved, the project is still struggling with ventilation and sludge management challenges inside the facility.
“You know construction comes with series of challenges like noise. We are still struggling with ventilation in the tunnels which is still a problem that somehow slows down the operations. Workers having protective gears, and lowering noise and dust emission levels,” she explained.
According to the project design, once the hydropower station construction is complete and operational, the volume of water going through Karuma Bridge will fall by 90 per cent since much of the waters will be diverted through the tunnels to power the six turbines according to the project engineers, Ms Akello said.
The Karuma HPP project has taken keen interest on the conservation of nature above economic growth considering the intensity of thick clouds from construction dust, machinery, rock explosions and buses shuttling workers up and down the tunnel.
For Karuma dam meanwhile, most of the social and environmental impacts have occurred during the construction phase which involved putting up engineering structures like roads, dams, tunnels, power plants structures and power transmission lines.
Mr Bashir Hangi, UWA spokesperson, said that Karuma wildlife reserve is safe from the impacts of the construction of the hydropower plant.
“All these projects not just hydro power have serious impacts but we have been so tight on the project owners to make sure all the precautionary measures set and agreed upon are observed and followed and so far the flora and fauna in the area are safe,” Mr Hangi said.
Although earth movements, noise and other pollution forced some animals to migrate from their original habitats, Mr Hangi said they have ensured that the animals relocated and settled within the reserve.
“You are talking about wild animals that have survival instincts, and once displaced and relocated to new homes just next to their original habitats they are safe,” he added.