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Karuma finally on course

By Joan Akello

After delays over jitters of bribery amongst bidders and ministry of energy officials, government has contracted Sinohydro Corporation, a Chinese firm to construct the 600MW Karuma dam.

It is estimated the project will cost $1.65 billion (about Shs 4.2 trillion) to develop the dam and a transmission line to evacuate the power from the generation site to the national grid.

Initially, The Karuma Dam Project’s stated starting price was US$2.2 billion hence US$550million cheaper.

“Sinohydro has promised to commence works on-site at Karuma within two weeks, thereby ensuring that the delivery of power consequently commences at the earliest possible date and without any further delays,” a government statement issued today said.

The statement added that the Ugandan government “has decided to award the EPC contract of the construction of the 600MW Karuma hydro power plant HPP and associated transmission line (Karuma interconnection project) to Sinohydro Corporation.”

The contract was expected to be awarded on May 16 2012 and commencements of works on June  4 2012, but due to procurement “flaws”, the process was clogged  with court injunctions , intervention of the  Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority and even the inspector General of Government(IGG) which recommended fresh procurement.

Ali Munira, the IGG spokesperson told The Independent that the institution is happy that the ministry of energy and mineral development has reviewed the Karuma dam tender process.

A whitleblower wrote a dossier  to the  IGG on Jan. 25  that there was need to  discipline China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) for misrepresenting facts in their bid for Karuma and be disqualified from the process.

According to the ENR engineering a firm that rates international contractors according to construction contract revenue, Sinohydro was ranked 15th and 14th in 2011 and 2012 respectively as of August 27 2012 compared to CWE in the 194th position in 2012.

The Sinohydro group made total revenue of US $18 billion of which US$ 4.3 billion was realized from international contracts. It earned US$ 20billion in new contracts in 2011.

Other firms that submitted their bids included China Gezhouba, Perlite Industries, Salini, Vinci.

Irene Muloni the energy minister signed the contract with the chairman of Sinohydro Corporation, Zhang Yunli on June 20. Also present was the Attorney General, Peter Nyombi on behalf of government.


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