Power generator cleared to hire new dam supervisor
Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Power generator—Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL)—is set to hire a new supervisor technically known as Owner’s Engineer (OE) for the 183MW Isimba hydro-power dam.
This comes two months after the contract of Energy Infratech expired in September and UEGCL declined to renew it over concerns of poor supervision.
Despite this, UEGCL was struggling to get new funds—Shs 13 billion—for a new contractor. Both the Energy Ministry and Finance Ministry appeared reluctant to commit funds. The Energy Ministry had asked UEGCL to use funds for Nyagak and Muzizi dams instead—something UEGCL was not keen about insisting the funds were already committed.
The bickering was a major concern because it threatened to delay and compromise the quality of the projects—UEGCL is expected to commission Isimba in August and Karuma in December next year.
That is why a Dec. 5 meeting at the Finance Ministry, which appears to have cleared that huddle, is seen as a relief.
Minister Matia Kasaija, Secretary to the Treasury, Keith Muhakanizi, State Minister for Finance in charge of investment, Evelyn Anite and Harrison Mutikanga, the UEGCL executive director attended the meeting.
Details remain scanty but The Independent understands that from the meeting, UEGCL got assurances that the Energy Ministry would allocate the funding for the new OE.
The meeting followed several exchanges between Finance, Energy and UEGCL, which signaled a major disagreement over the source of the Shs 13 bn to fund the procurement of the new OE.
Meanwhile, because of the red tape involving getting the new OE, UEGCL had to hire a temporary supervisor consisting of eight experts to supervise the works as the process of getting the new OE was ongoing.
Located in Kayunga District, Isimba dam has reached 75% completion and would cost slightly over US$450 million.
Why contract of old OE was not renewed
Energy Infratech PVT Limited (EIPL) – the firm hired to supervise the project had expired on Sept. 7 and was not renewed by UEGCL. EIPL began supervision work on May 7, 2014.
The same firm supervises works at the 600MW Karuma hydro-power dam. This project is expected to cost slightly over US$1.4bn.
UEGCL still has concerns over EIPL’s work at Karuma. Its contract runs up to the end of the project in December, 2018. Cancelling its contract, UEGCL officials say, might not be costly given that the new OE would be paid the amount that was earlier planned for under the current contract with EIPL.
The only cost would be one related to procurement of the new OE. UEGCL gained full control over the two projects in November 2016, taking over from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Supervision mandate and audit queries
Under the contract, EIPL was mandated with providing professional services, personnel and technical resources appropriate for the supervision of the engineering, procurement and construction works done by the EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) contactor, China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) as per the EPC contract, specifications and international standards.
This involved review and approval of designs, review and approval of construction method statements, review and approval of construction drawings, supervision of construction works and approval of completed structures.
The supervision contract also included witnessing testing of manufacturing equipment such as gates, turbines, generators, transformers, draft tubes, governors, exciter, cooling systems and a whole lot of other associated electromechanical equipment.
However, UEGCL officials say various aspects related to provision of professional services and personnel for the Isimba HPP did not meet the owner’s requirements as desired.