Energy, Mineral and Natural Resources Minister, Eng. Irene Muloni has said that her ministry is on course and will deliver the Karuma and Isimba power stations on time.
The Minister’s clarification comes in the wake of refreshed allegations that there are cracks that would delay the two multi-billion projects, and Members of Parliament on Tuesday resolved to form a nine-member committee to investigate the energy ministry over the perceived controversies surrounding the construction of Isimba and Karuma hydro-electricity dams.
The MPs’ decision arose from a motion moved by Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo, contending that the alleged defective works on the two power dams is a result of chronic breach of contractual obligations and reckless implementation of the Community Development Action Plan. The select committee will be named on Tuesday next week and will be expected to deliver its findings within 45 days.
But Eng. Muloni, who is currently out of the country, and spoke to EagleOnline through an aide, said the allegations that have been brought before Parliament are like ‘old wine in a new bottle’.
“Steps have been taken over those allegations and these very accusations are the old ones that came up early this year. We investigated and collective measures at both dams are undergoing,” Muloni said.
She added: “Definitely, as government we are concerned and we are much aware. However, those bringing up these same allegations should focus on the substance rather than form. Why personalize national issues as Kabagambe Kalisa or Irene Muloni?”
In April, this year, a team of three dam construction engineers from Chinese firm Sinohydro Corporation Ltd rushed to the country to assess magnitude of cracks in the spillway section of Karuma dam and to recommend the next course of action.
The cracks forced Sinohydro Corporation to halt work in that section of the dam, pending further investigation following a meeting with Energy Minister Irene Muloni and officials from Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) during a site tour.
Now, a July report by an ad hoc committee investigating ‘shoddy works and negligence’ by contractors and officials manning Karuma and Isimba hydropower projects has revealed that the material used are of questionable quality.
However, following a tour of both dams by energy ministry officials, UEGCL plus both constructors Sinohydro for Karuma and China International Water and Electric Corporation for Isimba, lead supervisors for the ministry Energy Infratech, SMEC and AF Consults who supervise on behalf of UEGCL as well as the media, it is was established that there were minor cracks but by the time the teams visited, some had been fixed.
At the time, Eng. V. Vasu, the Chief Executive Officer of Energy Infratech PVT Limited, said in engineering cracks occur but they do so for a reason.
“We are very particular with our work and it is true that minor cracks were observed but we have since fixed them. However, that aside, we are also doing investigations on that very particular area as we observe,” Eng. Vasu said.
Concerns over the two dams was first raised by President Yoweri Museveni, after which officials from the Ministry of Energy and the other respective agencies took a tour of both dams to establish the status.
And it was from the site tours that Energy minister Muloni and Permanent Secretary Kalisa directed that work on the cracked areas be suspended as investigations are carried out to establish the cause.
A unique infrastructure component, the Karuma dam which has both the power house and turbines underground, will on completion produce 600 megawatts.
Due to the wildlife concerns, it was decided that the dam is constructed underground so that wildlife along the River Nile is not endangered, so part of the river will be diverted underground into a tunnel where power will be produced and thereafter the water will be released to the 8.5 kilometer distance downstream to join the river exactly 8.5 kilometers south of the bridge.