by Peter Orengo
Security fears have forced Uganda to adjust construction plans of the Isimba hydropower Dam which was commissioned on March 21, 2019.
The project is expected to generate 183MW of electricity when completed.
Isimba hydropower dam was meant to link Kayunga and Kamuli districts, but construction stalled leading to the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga to raise concern.
The speaker alleged that the Shs 24 billion allocated for the bridge was swindled by top government officials.
But now, government says after evaluation, they noted that a bridge atop the dam poses security and terrorism concerns, the reason the construction was altered to downstream.
Xia Nenghai, the project manager of China International Water and Electrical Company Ltd, the contractor said it is indeed true the bridge was altered for security reasons. He says government raised reports of security concern at a time when the bridge was already complete.
He says although this was not a fault on their part, they will have to bear the cost of the new bridge. Nenghai says, unfortunately, they are supposed to use part of the $567 million to construct the bridge. According to Nenghai, other factors such as maintenance of the dam would also require the bridge to be closed.
Meanwhile, a statement from the minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Mary Kitutu addressed to parliament indicates that based on the technical committee engagements, government directed the contractor to construct a separate public access bridge with two lanes as specified in the contract since the construction of the lsimba dam had advanced.
She says further consideration was given to security and terrorism concerns, avoidance of interference with dam operation and maintenance activities as well as traffic blockage during removal of the trash and water hyacinth.
The committee was composed of representatives from Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited, solicitor general, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and ministry of Energy and Mineral Development.
Kitutu says that this led to the shifting of the bridge downstream were a better and more secure bridge is being established. She also says the contractor had constructed a single lane on the bridge atop the dam which was not feasible.
“ln the approved design, the lsimba public access bridge consists of two sections joined at Koova island. The section on the left river channel is 433 meters, while the section on the right river channel is 457 meters. The road section on Koova island is 301 meters,” Kitutu says in a statement.
Kitutu also says that efforts are being undertaken to ensure that the contractor has sufficient cash flow to continue and complete construction by 31st December 2020 as per the provisions of the contract.