Members of Parliament on the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources on Thursday roasted officials from DOTT Services LTD, the company that was contracted to construct the Nyagak III hydropower dam, in a bid to solve the problem of power shortage in the region.
Led by their Chairperson Hon. Otim Emmanuel Otala, the legislators traveled to West Nile on a fact-finding mission, to investigate allegations that WENRECO, the company that was contracted by the government through the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources had failed to maintain steady power supply in the region.
Their mission was guided by a petition to the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Among by a group of people under a pressure group known as Citizens Action for Improved public service delivery in West Nile (CAIPS) led by Zuberi Aloro and Mercy Grace Munduru, who alleged in their petition that WENRECO Ltd had proved incompetent at supplying electricity and that government should cancel the concessional agreement it had signed with the company.
However, during their tour of West Nile, the legislators discovered whereas the petitioners heaped all the blame on WENRECO, there are other underlying problems contributing to the power problem in the region and that the most viable solution is connecting the region to the national power grid.
The Committee for instance discovered that whereas WENRECO was contracted to supply power, there are two other companies; Electromaxx and Nyagak Power, that are supposed to generate the power, but these two companies are faced with problems that impede generation of adequate amount of power to be supplied by WENRECO.
The Committee members discovered that one of the biggest problems Electromaxx is facing is is fuel shortage which makes it very difficult for them to power their thermal energy generators such that they can generate enough power to be supplied by WENRECO.
The committee also noted that power outages and intermittent supply in the sub-region is on Nyagak’s failure to generate the 3.5 Megawatts due to the seasonal dry spell in the region.
“We have visited the plant (Nyagak I) but you release that climate change issues can’t allow it to perform to its expectations (3.5 Megawatts) all the year. Its like WENRECO being given 10 water bottles. When given, that’s what you distribute. If they get finished, I stop there and if there are more people, it means I need more water bottles! This is the situation WENRECO finds itself in. Many people don’t know that WENRECO is a distributor not a generator of power. If you give him low electricity, he will supply what you have given him and when it gets finished, he stops there,” Said Hon Lawrence Songa Biyika.
Songa, however launched a scathing dig at a private power generator – Electoromax for failing to produce power despite having installed machines of a higher capacity.
“Electoromax should be put to task to produce power and give it to WENRECO the distributor. Let there be fuel. Otherwise, in our motion, that’s why we want Electoromax to be relieved of the component of (procurement) fuel and we get an independent supplier. This is what we put in our motion. WENRECO is not the problem at all,” he said.
He added that “the solution to this, is getting West Nile sub-region connected to the National Grid and have all these power generation challenges sorted out once and for all,” he said acknowledging information gaps in power generation and supply chain.
However, besides the problem of fuel shortage, the legislators also observed that construction of Nyagak III Hydropower dam has overly delayed, which has contributed hugely to the power problems in West Nile.
It is for this reason that the legislators grilled officials from DOTT Services Limited led by Ayoub Markthoum, the Acting Project Manager, putting him to task to explain what has caused the unnecessary delay in the construction of the dam.
However, Markthoum told the legislators that there are several factors that have contributed to the delays, chief amongst these being the heavy rains and lack of financial support from government, which the company wants to use to compensate people who will be affected by the project.
“The project is around USD 19M, that is combining civil and mechanical hydro and electric mechanical works, but government has failed to release the money that was committed to the project,” Markthoum told the legislators.
He added that; “Right now construction works are at 82% so we would request the government promptly release the balance such that we can be able to finish.”
However, Markthoum failed to explain how much exactly DOTT Services needed to complete the project when he was asked by the legislators.
On failing to satisfactorily explain to the legislators what is causing the delay of the construction of the dam, the MPs demanded a copy of the agreement that was signed between DOTT Services and the government, such that they can critique it.
They gave the DOTT Services officials until Monday August 22nd, 2022 to present to Parliament the agreement and report about the delays or else face the repercussions.
The West Nile Parliamentary caucus comprises; Hon. Otim Emmanuel Otala, the chairman, Hon. Kugonza Emely, the Deputy Chairperson, plus members who include; Hon. Biyika Lawrence Songa Ora County, Hon. Alion Yorke Odria, Hon. Orone Derrick, Hon. Kaaya Christine Nakimwero, Hon. Tebandeke Charles, Hon. Apollo Yeri Ofwono, Hon. Kayondo Fred, among others..
It should be noted that construction of the proposed 6.6 MW Small Hydropower Project at River Zombo is being undertaken by DOTT Services Limited and the project which started in 2017 and was expected to be completed within 33 months, although this is yet to be achieved.
The 19.39 USD Million project is funded by the government of Uganda, Hydromax, and DOTT Services Ltd under a Public-Private Partnership.
In 2019, works at Nyagak were halted following a compensation dispute after the Paidha chiefdom demanded Shs90M from Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) to relocate its cultural heritage from the construction site.
As part of the agreement, the project developer, Genmax, will operate the dam for a period of 20 years after which it will be handed to the government.
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