Two years on: Only 30 per cent of Karuma Dam works complete

Monday March 28 2016

A section of Karuma Hydro Power Plant that has

A section of Karuma Hydro Power Plant that has already been excavated to accommodate water diversion from River Nile. PHOTO BY NELSON WESONGA.  



Two years into the five–year construction timeframe of Karuma Hydro Power Project, the government says only 30 per cent of the work is complete.

Mr Henry Bidasala–Igaga, the commissioner of electric power department in the Energy ministry, said at the weekend that the remaining 70 per cent of the work will be complete by December 2018.

With suppressed demand for power increasing by about 50 megawatts annually, Uganda should complete Karuma HPP within the next three years to stave off power rationing.

Mr Bidasala-Igaga explained that the first two years had been spent on mobilisation [of funds], putting up fuel stations and pumps, workers’ houses and dining halls.

“Those are auxiliary services that will assist when you [workers] start work,” Mr Bidasala-Igaga told reporters in Kiryandongo.
One of the tasks the contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, completed is excavation of the dam and the intake channels.

The company is now excavating the tunnels through which a section of the River Nile will be diverted to an underground powerhouse to turn six turbines to generate electricity.

“Come May, I think the tunnel excavation will have been done. The tunnel has to be lined with a layer of concrete,” Bidasala–Igaga said.

Sinohydro started constructing the 600 megawatt project in December 2013.
The hydropower plant is expected to be commissioned in December 2018.

Project cost

Cost: The project is expected to cost $1.6b (Shs5.6 trillion) over the period.
Source of funds: Uganda borrowed $1.435b (Shs4.8 trillion) – at interest rates of between two and four per cent – from the Chinese Export Import Bank to finance the construction. It got the balance from Uganda’s Energy Fund.