Government has today announced a new supervisor for the 183MW Isimba dam, four months after it refused to renew the contract of the old consultant.
Artelia EAU & Environment, a French firm, will work in partnership with Ugandan firm KATT Consults Limited as the new owner’s engineer (OE) for the dam. The new supervisors will be paid $4m (14.6bn).
These take over from Indian firm Infratech PvT Limited whose contract expired in September 2017.
Eng Harrison Mutikanga, the Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) boss, told reporters at his office in Kamwokya: “We have had challenges in terms of supervision, poor workmanship, and quality assurance. We are glad to have expedited the process of procuring the new owner’s engineer.”
“We believe the new owner’s engineer will go on to remedy not just the defects on the project, but also make sure it is fit for the purpose by August”.
UEGCL is the implementing agency for both the 600MW Karuma dam and Isimba. Both projects are now 70 per cent complete, the agency said.
Government says it targets to commission Isimba in August this year. Mutikanga said the contractor, Chinese firm Sinohydro, has not written to them asking for an extension of time to finish up the project which means they are ready to deliver by that time.
“We got the right company. We did due diligence,” Mutikanga said, assuring the public that they will do the job right.
Isimba and Karuma are key projects expected to halve the cost of electricity in the country once completed. This would ensure that more Ugandans are connected on the grid. At least 20 per cent of Ugandans have access to power with 15 per cent connected to the national grid.
Ugandans currently consume power at 12 USA cents (Shs 670) per unit, too costly a figure that President Museveni has previously said government might consider buying out the private investor to bring the cost down. It is costly for both businesses and household consumers.
When completed, Isimba and Karuma are expected to lower the cost of power to 4 US cents per unit.
Mutikanga said there were other small hindrances especially on transmission lines concerning compensation of land and property owners. He said these hindrances must be worked on.
“At the end of the day, we need to get power out of Isimba,” Mutikanga said.
Isimba dam will cost $567.7m to construct.