The Uganda government has hired French firm Artelia Eau & Environment to complete the supervision of construction works at one of its flagship hydropower dams, the 183MW Isimba at a cost of $4 million over the remaining seven months of the project.
The World Bank-backed Artelia will work in association with local firm KKATT Consult Ltd, taking over from Indian consultant Energy Infratech Pvt Ltd, whose contract expired last September and was not renewed after a series of errors at both Isimba and Karuma projects.
Government utility firm Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) had said the errors could compromise the structural integrity of the projects if left unrectified.
Just last month, the UEGCL cited quality control issues in concrete mix, design and lining of the tunnel as fresh areas for concern at the 600MW Karuma hydropower project, while at Isimba, there were cracks that caused a leakage, leading to flooding in the powerhouse and destroying the coffer dam.
UEGCL chief executive officer Harrison Mutikanga said the flooding was due to inadequate quality assurance and control on site.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of August. “Isimba is 75 per cent complete. We are on target to complete it come end of August 2018,” said Mr Mutikanga.
The latest Auditor General’s report of December 2017 had noted that Energy Infratech was still on site at Isimba more than four months since its 40-month contract expired.
The Auditor General John Muwanga notes that Energy Infratech lacked capacity and experienced personnel to supervise the works, which resulted in “poor concrete quality on site, cracking, cold joints, honey-combing and failed concrete repairs” which may lead to high maintenance costs for the project in the future.
Mr Mutikanga referred us to the Minister of Energy on the Indian firm’s status but our efforts to obtain comment from Energy Minister Irene Muloni were unsuccessful.
Artelia has global experience in supervising design and construction works for large hydropower projects, such as the World Bank-funded 80MW Rusumo hydropower dam on River Kagera, a tripartite project between Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi; Inga Dam 1 and II in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bagatelle in Mauritius, Felou in Mali, New Fulaidj in Oman, Nam Ngun III/IV in Laos and Delsi in Ecuador.