By IBRAHIM E. KASITA

KAMPALA, OCTOBER 01, 2016 – Government is developing 600 MW Karuma and 183 MW Isimba Hydropower Projects (HPPs) to increase electricity generation at affordable costs in order to support the country’s social and economic transformation.

Through a bilateral arrangement between the Government of Uganda and the Peoples’ Republic of China, both Karuma and Isimba HPPs are financed by Exim Bank of China, which is contributing 85% of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) cost. Government of Uganda is contributing 15%.

Both projects are being implemented by the following institutional arrangements:

Karuma HPP:

 Employer/Owner: The Government of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development
 Implementing Agencies: Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) is implementing the hydropower component of the project, while Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) is implementing transmission interconnection project.
 Owner’s Engineer (Consultants): Energy Infratech Private Uganda Ltd (EIPUL) is the consultant for the hydropower component of the project, while Gopa Intec is the consultant for the transmission infrastructure.
 EPC contractor:Sinohydro Corporation Ltd

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Implementing Agencies to define roles and responsibilities of each party in the implementation of Karuma HPP.
Isimba HPP

 Employer/Owner: The Government of Uganda represented by the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD)
 Implementing Agencies: Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) is implementing the hydropower component of the project, while Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) is implementing transmission interconnection project.
 Owners Engineer (Consultant): Energy Infratech Private Uganda Ltd (EIPUL) is the consultant for both the hydropower plant and the transmission interconnection
 EPC contractor: China Water and Electric Corporation (CWE)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Implementing Agencies to define roles and responsibilities of each party in the implementation of the Isimba HPP.

A Steering Committee is in place to provide implementation guidance on matters pertaining to both Karuma and Isimba projects.

With the guidance from the President, the present Steering Committee has been reconstituted as follows:

 Eng. Dr. BadruKigundu – Chairperson
 Mr. John Berry – Deputy Chairperson
 Permanent Secretaries of MEMD and MoFPED – Members
 Managing Directors of UEGCL and UETCL – Members
 Solicitor General – Member

Implementation Progress and Achievements
Works on both Karuma and Isimba HPPs are on-going and are being monitored in references to their respective project schedules.

Karuma HPP

The overall physical progress of the project is about 48%, while the financial progress is at 32.48%.

The excavation of the Power House and Head Race Tunnels (HRT) pressure shafts at the power intake is complete.

Welding work of the hydro-mechanical equipment (steel rings for the draft tube, HRT and Spiral Casing) has started.

The Power House and the Tail Race Tunnels being the critical activities are progressing as per schedule. The project is expected to be completed in December 2018.

Isimba HPP

The overall physical progress of the project is about 51%, while the financial progress is at 36.81%. The target completion date of the project is August 2018.

Key Implementation Issues and Challenges

The following are the key challenges that have been faced during the implementation of the two projects:

Karuma HPP
 Allegation of shoddy works manifesting as concrete cracks at the dam section (spillway) of the project;
 Allegation of inadequacy of the consultant’s workforce;
 Allegation of inadequate rock support for the excavated underground areas (tunnels, power house, surge chamber)
 Claim that the MoU signed between MEMD and Implementing Agencies was not giving full contract administration powers to the Implementation Agencies, and;
 Legal suit by Henry Kyalimpa.

Isimba HPP
 Allegation of shoddy works manifesting as defects in the Draft Tube No. 4;
 Allegation of inadequacy of the consultant’s workforce;
 Inadequate quality control by Owner’s Engineer;
 Claim that the MoU signed between MEMD and Implementing Agencies was not giving full contract administration powers to Implementing Agencies;
 Alleged contractual omissions by EPC contractor being covered by the consultant that include temperature control/cooling studies;
 The EPC contractor working on the left embankment dam without approved designs;
 Engineers of the Consultant not being registered by Engineers Registration Board (ERB) of Uganda

How the MEMD has addressed the issues/challenges

The above issues have been brought to the attention of the Ministry during project implementation by various parties that include; Owner’s Engineer, Panel of Experts, and Project Management Consultants engaged by UEGCL to assist them in supervision of the projects.

The above issues have been addressed in the following manner:

Karuma HPP

Allegation of shoddy works manifesting as concrete cracks at the dam section (spillway) of the Karuma Project

Cracks were observed at the overflow (spillway) section of the dam at Karuma HPP. The EPC Contractor engaged International Experts to inspect and investigate the cause of the cracks that were found to be of thermal stress.

The experts in their reports concluded that the cracks are normal cracks associated with civil structures that can be repaired and will not affect the integrity and operation of the dam.
The contractor has hired a third party.

Sika Group. a manufacturer of specialty chemicals for construction, was engaged to carry out crack repairs at the spillway. Sika team reported on 17th September 2016 commenced repairs. The cost of the repairs is to be borne by the contractor.

Concreting of the spillway was stopped pending acquisition of a cooling plant. The cooling plant was delivered and is under installation that was expected to be completed by 30th September 2016.

Concreting of the spillway will resume upon commissioning of the cooling plant. Works on the other sections of the project (intake, headrace, power house, tailrace tunnels and outfall) are on-going.

Allegation of inadequacy of the consultant’s workforce

An addendum was signed between the Consultant and MEMD to increase on the workforce at site and EIPL has currently deployed at site staff for the following disciplines: Civil engineering, Electro Mechanical Engineering, Hydro Mechanics Engineering and Health Safety and Environment. The project manager has also been replaced.

Inadequate rock support for the excavated underground areas

Support of the underground excavated areas was work in progress. All unsupported sections have been covered up by the contractor and concrete lining in the Tail Race Tunnel has also commenced.

Transfer of full contract administrative powers to UEGCL

In addition to MoU which was earlier signed between MEMD and UEGCL, a Deed of Assignment to transfer contract administration of Karuma project consultant has been agreed upon. Signing of the Deed of Assignment awaits approval of Solicitor General Office.

Legal Suit by Henry Kyalimpa

Henry Kyalimpa filed a public interest suit at the High Court in Kampala on 9th May 2016 against the Attorney-General of Uganda, Karuma Contractor, Isimba Contractor, Consultant of Karuma and Isimba, EXIM Bank of China and UEGCL.

The plaintiff seeks against the defendants jointly declarations and orders to the effect that an independent engineering, financial and value for money audit be commissioned to determine the quality of works, progress and viability of the Karuma and Isimba Hydropower Projects.

The suit is being handled by the Attorney-General.

Isimba HPP

Alleged defects on Draft Tube No 4

Installation of Draft Tube No.4 was work in progress and has since been completed. Upon completion of draft tube No.4, wielding tests were carried out to ascertain its adequacy and integrity. The test results met requirements as specified in the contract.
Inadequate staff from the Owner’s Engineer

The Owner’s Engineer has since replaced the Project Manager and the Deputy Project Manager. As an interim measure, the Owner’s Engineer has also deployed additional four staff at site.

A contract Addendum is being discussed with the consultant to formally increase workforce on site.

EPC contractor being covered by Engineer’s Owners including temperature control/cooling studies

A cooling study has been done and a approved by Consultant. Concrete tests and any other contractual test are carried out and witnessed by all parties including UEGCL and Project Management Consultant.

The EPC contractor working on the left embankment dam without approved drawing

The Owner’s Engineer stopped works at the left embankment dam and resumption is pending approval of drawings.

The EPC contractor has been instructed not to carry out works against approved drawings.

Engineers of the Owner’s Engineer not registered by Engineers Registration Board (ERB)

In accordance with the General Conditions of the contract, GCC 19.5b, the Owners Engineer staff is exempted from registration with ERB.

Conclusion
The projects works are ongoing and are being monitored in reference to the respective project’s implementation schedule. The Henry Kyalimpa Court case will negatively affect Government relations with EXIM Bank of China and therefore expeditiously disposal is of essence. We assure the public that the issues highlighted do not threaten the integrity and functionality of the projects.

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