Work on Karuma dam begins

Friday December 13 2013

Ministry of Energy and Exim Bank officials during the project evaluation exercise

Ministry of Energy and Exim Bank officials during the project evaluation exercise at the Karuma dam site in Kiryandongo District on Wednesday. Photo by Stephen Otage 

By Stephen Otage

KAMPALA- Civil works on the Karuma Hydro Dam project in Kiryandongo District have been kicked off by Sino Hydro Corporation, the Chinese company which won the contract for the venture.

According to Mr Song Yi Jun, the project manager, Sino Hydro Corporation has so far mobilised bridge financing of the project from the China Export and Import Bank (EXIM Bank), construction equipment on top of securing local sub-contractors to carry out the geo-surveys and the actual works which started immediately after the signing of the contract in August.

The project is estimated to cost $1.4bn (Shs 3.5trillion) for the dam and $ 280million (Shs. 700 billion) for the transmission lines. Mr. Song challenged government to speed up the compensation of the affected people since the Ministry of Energy already has the money for compensation.

“We have acquired 10 sets of construction equipment, we have got the bridge financing from Exim Bank, we have 50 Chinese engineers and 100 local employees and we are going to build two schools and a hospital wherever government chooses,” he said in an interview on Wednesday.

Advance payments
Mr Song, who led the site tour for officials from Exim Bank and ministry of Energy, said Sino Hydro Corporation requires advance payments so that it can speed up the work.

The officials are in the country to discuss the financing arrangements for the 600MW project, which is expected to be complete by 2018.

According to Mr Henry Bidasala Igaga, the assistant commissioner electrical power at the Ministry of Energy, the Karuma Hydro Dam project is being financed on an 85/15 percentage ratio between the Governments of China and Uganda respectively.

He said government has already committed 50 per cent of its share to the project which covers the three districts of Kiryandongo, Oyam and Nwoya, where so far more than 50 per cent of the affected people have been resettled.

“Ninty per cent of the people in Nora village in Oyam District have been resettled. Awo Village across Karuma still has land ownership disputes but money for resettling the people is available. The main infrastructure will be in Kiryandongo District, while the diversion channel will be in Oyam District,” he said.