Karuma, Isimba Dam Probes Worry Museveni

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In short
The President was categorical that China, being one of the biggest investors in infrastructural projects in the country, might review its relations with Uganda over some of the reports regarding its companies work, an MP who attended the meeting told URN.

President Yoweri Museveni has expressed concern over the negative reports surrounding the construction of Karuma and Isimba hydro power dams.

The two projects have been a center of controversy after parallel investigations by Parliament's Natural Resources committee and government found signs of concrete cracks, improper installation of water stops and abrupt irregularities on concrete surface at the two dam sites.

This prompted Henry Kyalimpa, a Kampala lawyer and procurement consultant, to file a suit in the High Court, calling for an independent engineering and value-for-money audit to determine the quality of works, progress and viability for both Karuma and Isimba dam projects.

Sino Hydro Corporation of China is undertaking construction of the 5.6 trillion Shilling Karuma Dam while China International Water and Electric Corporation is constructing Isimba Dam valued at 1.4 trillion Shillings. The projects are financed by the Export and Import Bank of China (Exim Bank).

Uganda Radio Network has however learnt that President Museveni is concerned about the negativity surrounding the projects, notably the impact it would have on Uganda's relationship with China, whose companies are undertaking the projects.

Museveni reportedly expressed the concern during a meeting with Members of Parliament's Natural Resources Committee, who were summoned to the State House, Entebbe on Friday.

"The President was categorical that China, being one of the biggest investors in infrastructural projects in the country, might review its relations with Uganda over some of the reports regarding its companies' work," an MP who attended the meeting but declined to be named told URN.

Another committee member, John Baptist Nambetsye confirmed this to URN, stating that the President, in as much as he was concerned about the quality of work on the two projects, also raised concerns on the impact the reports will have on the relationship between the two countries.
 
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Committee chairman Alex Byarugaba Bakunda declined to speak to the media on the meeting but some members of the committee said the meeting sought to also harmonize the parallel investigations by parliament and a team Engineer Badru Kiggundu on the same. The Kiggundu-led committee was appointed by President Museveni.
 
Bukooli Central MP Solomon Silwanyi told URN that the President wanted the different committees to play a complementary role and share insight on their investigations.
 
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However, Nambetsye warns that there could be a clash of interest between the Kiggundu-led committee and Parliament's select committee regarding the investigations.
 
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George Lubega Matovu, a natural resources manager at National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) today revealed that works on the Isimba dam have been halted due to gross pollution and poor waste management systems at the site. They were given seven days to make good.
 
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The Attorney General recently advised government against investigations into the two projects, on grounds that there was a matter already in court.

 

About the author

Olive Eyotaru
Olive Eyotaru is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Eyotaru has been a URN staff member since February 2015.

Eyotaru started practising journalism while still studying at Uganda Christian University. She was a reporter with Ultimate Media Consult Ltd between 2005 and 2007.

In 2009, Eyotaru joined Monitor Publications Limited, under KFM Radio as a parliamentary and business reporter. Consequently, Eyotaru started writing for the Daily Monitor newspaper until January 2015, when she moved to URN.

She is interested in reporting about politics, health, human rights, business and sports.