Karuma dam stumbles over Shs5b community projects

Friday April 23 2021

Energy minister Mary Goretti Kituttu (2nd right), UPDF Chief of Medical Services Maj Gen Ambrose Musinguzi (right) and Sinohydro Corporatioon Ltd officals inspect the new theatre of Masindi Military Hospital on Friday. PHOTO | TOBBAIS JOLLY OWINY

By Tobbias Jolly Owiny

The Karuma Hydropower Dam contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, has slashed, to nearly half, the budget for financing projects to benefit local communities in Oyam District.

Upon agreeing to construct the 600MW hydro-power facility, the contractor also agreed to build a hospital in Dicuinyi Village as well as refurbish Amaji Primary School, in Kamdini Sub-county.

At Amaji Primary School, the company had planned to construct more classrooms, an administration block, staff houses, a computer lab and dormitories while a new general ward, an outpatient department, nurses quarters, toilets would be built at the hospital in Dicuinyi Village.

Each project was valued at $1.5m (about Shs5.4b).
The hospital is the only one in the village while the school was selected for its close proximity to the Karuma project.

However, in an interview with Daily Monitor last Friday, Mr Badru Kiggundu, the Karuma and Isimba Hydropower dams’ steering committee chairperson, said the contractor recently told the government that it was unable to finish all the agreed structures.

“The contractor made a submission that they could only make available money to build the nurses quarters and the outpatient department for the proposed Dicunyi General hospital. At Amaji Primary School, only two out of the approved eight blocks have been constructed,” Mr Kiggundu said.


He added: “So, it was about selecting which components fit within that budget and build them in anticipation that government can source alternative funding to implement these designs to their fullest.”

Mr Tonny Obonyo, the contractor’s legal officer, in December 2020 said the firm was facing difficulties in doing procurement since the project owner (government) was releasing insufficient funds to the contractor.

The construction works of both Dicunyi general hospital and Amaji Primary School are 87 per cent complete.
The company also agreed to give Masindi Military Hospital a facelift at the same cost. This was completed recently and handed over to government last Friday.

The military facility now has a new laboratory block, surgical ward, theatre, morgue, nurses quarters, doctors house, and VIP latrines.

For years, Amaji Primary School did not have proper structures and its  teachers had to use a tree shade as their staffroom.
When the refurbishing of the school was announced, Ms Esther Awudi, the headteacher, said the school, which had approximately 1,100 pupils and 17 teachers, was headed for bigger things.

“With the new structures, I think we can accommodate about 2,000 pupils. The new development means parents will no longer need to take their pupils to other places as we shall be able to provide quality education,” Ms Awudi says.