Parliament to Probe Karuma, Isimba Dam Projects

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In short
The nine-member committee will investigate concerns over concrete cracks, lack of thermal studies, improper installation of water stops and abrupt irregularities on concrete surface which could significantly compromise the structural integrity of the dams, powerhouse and intake structures.

Parliament has set up a select committee to probe controversies surrounding the construction of Karuma and Isimba Hydro power dams.

The nine-member committee will investigate concerns over concrete cracks, lack of thermal studies, improper installation of water stops and abrupt irregularities on concrete surface which could significantly compromise the structural  integrity of the dams, powerhouse and intake structures.

The investigation follows a motion tabled by MPs Theodore Ssekikubo, Wilfred Niwagaba, Raphael Magyezi, Barnabas Tinkasimire, Richard Oseku and William Nzoghu among others, in Parliament calling for a probe into the two projects.

In his justification, Ssekikubo says that while Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) was mandated by government to oversee and own construction works at the two dam sites, it has been sidelined by the contractors.

He says that although UEGCL has on separate occasions raised concerns on poor design, shoddy construction works and non-compliance, the Chinese companies contracted to build the dams have sidelined it.

Sinohydro Corporation of China is constructing the 600 Megawatt Karuma Dam project costing 5.6 trillion Shillings while China International Water and Electric Corporation is constructing the 183 megawatt Isimba Power Dam at 1.4 trillion Shillings.

Due to the cracks, Ssekikubo says, President Museveni ordered a probe of the visible cracks in the concrete of the dam structure to clearly get to the root cause and effect the cracks will have on the durability of the dam and intake structure, but this was not done by the ministry and contractors.
 
//Cue In: It should be noted...
Cue Out:...washed away//
 
Some of the concerns in the motion are also the lack of local content such as sidelining of local companies in supplying steel, cement and sand, in favour of imported materials from Kenya and China.
 
//Cue In: We have Tororo...
Cue Out:...with our steel//
 
Some legislators, including Alex Byarugaba, the chairman Natural Resources Committee suggested that his committee takes the lead in the investigations; it was rejected with justifications that a select committee will have more time and resources to handle the matter.

The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga says she will issue the Terms of Reference to the committee next week.

 

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.