Construction works for the Karuma hydropower dam on River Nile will be completed in the scheduled time, government officials, who visited the project site on Thursday, June 7 for a routine quarterly check have said.
The multibillion-dollar project being constructed by China’s Sinohydro Corporation, is expected to be ready for commissioning in December this year. According to the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) chief executive officer, Eng. Harrsion Mutikanga, 78 per cent of the work is done.
“We are witnessing the installation of electro-mechanical components for the generation units in the power house and we remain optimistic that we shall start commissioning this project by the end of this year,” Mutikanga said after a guided tour of the project on June 7.
UEGCL is the government’s implementing agency for the project. The team, which included the UEGCL board members, had visited the project to appraise its progress. Eng. Proscovia Njuki, the board chairperson, said they are not only keen on timely completion but want to ensure the work done is worth the money.
“We look forward to the timely completion of this project taking into account the elements of quality, cost and time,” Njuki said, adding that they have already have prepared a team of engineers and technicians to start operating and maintaining the plant.
Once completed, the $1.7 billion (about Shs 5 trillion) project is expected to add 600MW to the national grid. Currently, Uganda’s electricity generation capacity is 950MW, including all other sources such as solar and thermal generators.
The Karuma dam project cost includes construction of staff houses, an administration block, a visitors’ centre at Karuma and high voltage power transmission lines, among others.
The government acquired a 30-year concessional loan from China Exim Bank to finance the project, which it says will greatly bring down the high costs of electricity and boost economic growth.
ABOUT THE DAM
Chinese engineers have constructed the dam with a unique underground design after breaking the gigantic rock besides the Karuma Falls, along Kampala-Gulu highway.
The dam has an underground powerhouse, which shall receive water to move the turbines through a mosaic of tunnels and ducts, making it the first of its kind in Africa. It consists of underground access tunnels, measuring up to 26km, and in-take sections through which water will be diverted from the Nile to create falls of 100m before hitting the turbines in the underground power house.
Much of the civil works on the underground dam and water in-take sections is nearing completion, with radial flood control gates recently installed.