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Deputy Speaker seeks explanation on Isimba dam shutdown

Isimba Hydroelectric Power Station is a 183.2 megawatts hydroelectric power station commissioned on 21 March 2019 in Uganda. Construction of this dam began in April 2015 and was completed in January 2019

Isimba Hydroelectric Power Station is a 183.2 megawatts hydroelectric power station commissioned on 21 March 2019 in Uganda. Construction of this dam began in April 2015 and was completed in January 2019 (PHOTO /Courtesy)

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa has directed the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development to provide a comprehensive statement on the shutdown of Isimba Hydropower Power Plant.

While chairing the House on Wednesday, 17 August 2022, Tayebwa said the emergency shutdown of the 183 megawatts Isimba Hydropower Plant in Kayunga District has caused panic and plunged some parts of the country into darkness.

“The flooding at Isimba power plant has caused panic and I have seen Umeme has released a load shedding schedule. But we were told that we have an installed capacity of 1,378.1 megawatts and we consume much less of that. So now Isimba is a dam of only 183 megawatts and we don’t even consume 1,000 megawatts as a country, but I have seen already we are rushing to Kenya to import 60 megawatts,” Tayebwa said.

In a statement dated 16 August 2022, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa who attributed the shutdown at Isimba to operational challenges that led to the flow of water into the powerhouse, said that the power operator, Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) is considering to import about 60 megawatts of power from Kenya.

To Tayebwa, this is a rushed decision that requires the minister to present a comprehensive statement on the operations of power dams and the country’s absorption levels.

“The issue is not about the flooding, but the panic; it has scared very many people. Today, I have received about nine members [MPs] on the same matter. So because of how serious this issue is, the minister is required to appear tomorrow to make a substantive statement which we shall debate,” Tayebwa said.

He urged MPs in their oversight programmes to pay more attention to the quality of works at Isimba and Karuma power plants, especially on infrastructural designs.

Chief Opposition Whip, Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe called for an investigation on Isimba power plant which was commissioned in 2019 citing shoddy works.

“The power dam was commissioned two years ago and it has already shut down even when it is still under period of defects liability. It puts in serious questions on the structural integrity of this facility. An investigation must be instituted to find out what has happened because this speaks volumes about work which could have been shoddy or compromised,” Nambeshe said.

Nambeshe is also opposed to government’s proposal to import electricity from Kenya saying the country’s electricity generation is adequate.

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