Karuma Dam Workers Strike

1400 Views Bweyale, Uganda

In short
Another staff told URN the least paid worker earns Shillings 350,000 each month, but they want the money increased to Shillings 500,000.

Work has grounded to a halt at Karuma power dam in Kiryandongo District following a sit down strike by 1500 employees of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd, the Chinese firm undertaking the works. The workers laid down their tools on Wednesday this week to protest low wages, alleged harassment by their Chinese supervisors, poor working conditions including lack of protection gears, inadequate access to clean drinking water and toilet facilities.
 
 
One of the striking workers told URN this morning on condition of anonymity for fearing of reprisal from his superiors that they have been receiving threats from their employer  to resume work or risk being sacked. He however, says they have unanimously resolved not to resume work until their grievances are addressed.



Another staff told URN the least paid worker earns Shillings 350,000 each month, but they want the money increased to Shillings 500,000. According to the source, they are remitting heavy taxes in form of income tax, union fees and local service tax. Another worker who only identified herself as Alice says they can't continue working under the current situation giving the prevailing cost of living.
 
 
She also says because of drinking unsafe water, many employees get typhoid yet they have to foot their medical expense. Scovia Napio, the Welfare Officer of Sinohydro Corporation Ltd confirmed the strike, but declined to speak more, saying she was on leave. Government hasn't commented on the matter as none of the responsible officers could be reached by the time of filing this story.
 
 

Once completed Karuma dam is expected to generate about 600 Megawatts of power. The project is expected to cost close to US $ 1.7 billion [about Shillings 3.5 trillion. Exim Bank of China is financing 85 percent of the project with Uganda contributing the remaining money. According the agreement signed with government, the project is expected to be completed by December 2018.

 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.