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Seven experts to scrutinize Isimba Dam works

Experts, UEGCL and other site Engineers sharing a moment inside the powerhouse on April 02. Independent/Julius Businge.

UEGCL remains optimistic that official launch of the project is set for August

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | On Monday, April 02, another step towards having a high-tech, well built 183MW Isimba hydro power plant was demonstrated by its main overseer– Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL).

The Dam Safety Independent Panel of Experts –  six foreign and one Ugandan –  drove from Jinja in one van to the site, located in Kayunga district to observe the quality of work and offer expert advice on how to deal with possible gaps that would cut short the lifespan of the important power plant.

The one-week visit was the sixth mission that began on April 01-07. But it was the first time all the seven experts were visiting the site at ago for critical analysis on the work being done.

This visit is a mechanism instituted by government, following the April 2016 Ministerial Policy Directive in respect of the construction of 183 MW Isimba Hydropower Project and its Bujagali Interconnection Project.

The team’s core purpose is to independently evaluate the quality of construction works, review basic and detailed designs and construction methodologies, and assess the risks associated with construction and operation phases of the project, to ensure that international standards of design, risk evaluation and impact assessment are met.

UEGCL officials said that in accordance with international practice, the expert’s site visits are conducted biannually.

The visit came at a time UEGCL and the main contractor, China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) were optimistic that the official project launch date would remain August this year.

“Recognizing that Isimba power plant is in its final year of construction, government has been prompted to attach overriding significance to the sixth visit of the experts,” Eng. Harrison Mutikanga, the Chief Executive Officer for UEGCL said .

The experts include, the Chairperson Charles C. Hutton from the USA, Prof. Kaare Hoeg from Norway, Dr. Jean Pierre Tournier from Canada, John Gummer from Australia, John Russel and Ljiljana Spasic-Gril from the UK and Prof. Jackson Mwakali from Uganda.

Mutikanga said the composition of this team ensures coverage of the full range of the project construction components and technical aspects.

He said Charles Hutton and Prof. Mwakali are handling the civil and structural issues of the powerhouse and related works, Prof. Kaare Hoegand and Dr. Tournier are reviewing embankment dam and geotechnical aspects, John Gummer is tackling the hydro mechanical equipment issues, John Russel is looking at all electromechanical elements while LjiljanaSpasic-Grill is focusing on risk assessment of the dam safety during construction and operation phases.

Mutikanga said the team would interact with government officials represented by UEGCL, the contractor’s representatives and the Owner’s Engineer (OE). Their site work would broadly involve field inspections, independent site investigations, design review meetings and desk studies which are guided by a clear set of design criteria based on international standards, guidelines and global best industry practice.

Meanwhile, Mutikanga said the implementation of team’s recommendations from the previous visits has immensely contributed to the quality assurance and control measures required to build a fit for purpose facility.

The Easter Monday visit was considered to be timely as construction of the embankment dams and electromechanical installations were at critical stages, with progress already registered in dam foundation treatment and turbine generator installations for two out of four generating units. Preparations were also underway to start dam material placement on the right embankment of the dam.

It was also timely following the new appointment of the site engineer supervisors in January this year, technically called Owner’s Engineer(OE) – Artelia EAU & Environment (from France) in association with KKATT Consult Limited (a Ugandan firm).

The new OE is mandated with providing professional services, personnel and technical resources appropriate for the supervision of the engineering, procurement and construction works done by the contractor (CWE).

Earlier in September – 2017 – Energy Infratech PVT Limited (EIPL) – the firm hired to supervise the project as the OE had its contract expired but was not renewed by UEGCL after sleeping on the job.

The preliminary findings and recommendations from the sixth visit would be presented at the end of the site visit, for action by the respective project parties.

The US$567.7 million project is currently approaching 86%  completion, according to the UEGCL and the experts.

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