The sixty six-year old Nalubaale dam is plagued by a myriad of multi-faceted deficiencies, a report by an independent engineer has revealed.
Hatch Limited, an independent engineer contracted by Eskom, in accordance to its concession agreement with Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited has revealed numerous red flags in the management of the Nalubaale-Kiira dam complex.
The two dams, with a combined generation capacity of 380 megawatts (MW) only produce 139MW of electricity.
Nonetheless, the dams are instrumental since they offer the cheapest electricity to Uganda’s energy mix sold below 2 cents per unit.
The audit inspection by the auditor general detailed in UEGCL’s 2019 annual report reveals key findings that have yet to be addressed by the South African concessionaire, Eskom.
“A review of the independent engineer assessment reports and physical audit inspection of the complex revealed gross deficiencies,” Mr John Muwanga, the auditor general noted.
Key among them is the ever recurring challenge of cracks eating into the powerhouse structure.
“Concrete cracks were observed within the Nalubaale powerhouse structure on concrete ceiling and alternator block walls at the upper gallery of essentially every unit (units 1 to 10) and on the staircase walls of units 1, 5 and 9,” the report reveals. The engineers also highlighted leakages of Nalubaale sluice gates, which Eskom said have existed since 2009.
Water seepage and vegetation was observed at the downstream face of the main dam blocks and the water intake of Nalubaale dam.
The engineer also witnessed extensive surface corrosion on certain structures and floating water hyacinth around the pond surface between headrace bridge and the intake structures due to the collapse of the floating boom at the power plant.
In addition, there were oil deposits in the turbine pits caused by ineffective oil extraction system at the Jinja based plant.
Moreover, for six years, unit 10 of the Nalubaale power station, the report noted has been out of service due to oil leakage.
While there was a scheduled overhaul of the unit last year, the auditor general observed that it had not commenced by October. Eskom has in the past been blamed for failure to invest in the dam to ensure its longevity in proper condition. The company has since 2003 invested $29.1m (Shs106.6b) in the two dams.