With the construction of several hydropower stations already underway, Owen Falls Dam, the country’s oldest power station, will not be renovated anytime soon.
The managing director of ESKOM-Uganda- the operator of the dam, Ms Nokwanda Mngeni, told journalists last month the asset owner, government, is aware of the state of the dam and any possibility of renovation will depend on them entirely.
“We don’t have plans to deal with the dam but at least we take good care of it for the sake of our work,” Ms Mgeni said.
She added: “We found cracks there although they have been expanding over time due to the mixture of cement used during construction.”
Several sections in Owen Falls renamed Nalubaale Dam, continue to develop huge cracks, worth mention, in the 10-turbine room, but ESKOM management, said they are constantly monitored. The dam was constructed in the 1950s.
Ms Mngeni said they have repetitively engaged government on the matter but it is always unresponsive. “We cannot do much because we are not the asset owners.”
ESKOM-Uganda, a subsidiary of the South African government-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Limited, was granted a 20-year concession in 2002 following previous unbundling of Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) in the late 1990s to create efficiency in the electricity sector, which critics say has not been realised.
The unbundling of UEB saw the subsequent formation of Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL); Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) and Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited (UEDCL).
UEGCL officials when contacted for a comment asked for more time to consult and get back but by press time, they had not responded.
But ESKOM officials, despite the state of the dam, say they believe all is well for now but may dampen between the next five to 10 years.
Meanwhile, the chairman of ESKOM Holdings Zola Tsotsi and Chief Executive Officer, Johnny Dladla, are in the country on official visit to “effectively engage with strategic stakeholders.”
The company’s head of corporate affairs, Mr Simon Kasyate, confirmed the development, and added the duo are accompanied by several other delegation from the South African government, to “re-affirm Eskom’s commitment to energy development in Uganda.”