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Persistent power outages irk West Nile MPs

Legislators from West Nile have asked the government to intervene and address the persistent power outages and erratic electricity supply in the region.

Legislators from West Nile have asked the government to intervene and address the persistent power outages and erratic electricity supply in the region.

Led by the Chairperson of the West Nile Caucus, Lawrence Songa, the MPs met with the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Ruth Nankabirwa, on Thursday, 16 December 2021, demanding an expedited solution.

Songa said the people of West Nile needed an explanation from the authorities as to why they were in a power black out.

He stated that as leaders they have been getting contradictory and inconclusive reports from different parties responsible.

Songa explained that Nyagak power station which was constructed to beef up power supply to the region was falling short of its expected output producing about 1.5 megawatts instead of the 3.5 megawatts.

Songa further noted that the thermal power generating company, Electromax, is continuously plagued with fuel supply inconsistencies that affect their ability to supply power steadily.

“We need a commitment from the Minister on when the government is going to deliver steady supply of electric power to West Nile,” he said.

Jackson Lee Atima, MP Central Division Arua City noted that there seems to be glaring issues affecting the power supply agencies, which the government should look into.

“One of the salient issues is the need for fuel to supply Electromax to generate power immediately as it seems to be the most plausible short term solution,” he added.

Geoffrey Feta, MP Ayivu Division East Arua City elaborated the urgency of the matter stating that without consistency in electricity supply, people die in Arua Hospital because oxygen supply is affected by electricity.

“We also have numerous youth put out of work because various economic ventures cannot function without power supply; government needs to do something about this very soon,” he added.

Feta requested the Minister to furnish the MPs with contractual agreements the government has with the power supplying agencies for oversight purposes.

Obongi County MP, George Bhoka Didi, recalled that government made a commitment in 2020 before the country headed for elections that every sub-county in Uganda would have electricity.

In response, the minister of energy reassured the MPs saying that she presented a paper to Cabinet to generate 20 megawatts from a solar power plant built in and for West Nile which has been accepted.

Nankabirwa said it would be operational within two years because some feasibility studies have been conducted and this would be part of the hybrid power supply solution for West Nile region.

“I am well aware of the matter and I do not intend to leave office without solving the issue of sustainable and reliable power supply in the region,” Nankabirwa added.

The minister said there is also a plan to extend the national grid to West Nile as evidenced by the construction of power substations in Oluyo, which is at 75 per cent completion, Nebbi and Arua among others.

“The government is planning on a mixed power supply sourcing power from other avenues other than hydropower. For example, Nyagak has become inconsistent. We are investing in thermal electricity generation as well,” she said.

Nankabirwa told the MPs that the Ministry is also in the process of acquiring US$ 400 million loan from the World Bank to systematically address power distribution issues in the country.

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