Difficulties in acquiring land for the Karuma interconnection project is likely to delay the commissioning of the 600MW hydropower plant. The Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd chief executive officer, Mr Harrison Mutikanga, has revealed.
The power plant, whose construction commenced in August 2013, is to be commissioned in December 2018. However, according to Mr Mutikanga, despite the progress of ongoing works at Karuma Hydropower project, commissioning it on schedule remains uncertain. This is due to land-related issues where transmission lines will cross.
Electricity from the power plant is to be evacuated through Karuma -Kawanda (305km), Karuma-Olwiyo (60km) and Karuma- Lira (80km). More than 4,000 affected people on the transmission routes are set to be compensated.
Mr. Mutikanga further said that they are working closely with the ministry of Energy, Finance ministry and Uganda Electricity Transmission Co Ltd (UETCL). “They have to ensure that the problems are rectified and the project is commissioned on schedule,” he added.
Mr Edward Mutesa, the principal project officer- social Aspect at UETCL, the firm undertaking the interconnection project; said that they are already behind schedule by six months due to emerging land disputes.
He noted that the biggest challenges are on the Karuma-Kawanda, the longest route where there are several overlapping tittles by landowners between the Nakasongola and Wakiso districts.
According to Mr Mutesa, owners of land on the Karuma-Lira route have a lot of incitement from lawyers to get more money.
He said that out of the 4,135 people affected by the interconnection project, 2,791 have so far been compensated. This is a total US $ 3m of the US $5.6m meant to compensate all the affected land owners.
Mr Albert Byaruhanga, the Karuma Hydropower project manager, has also noted some concerns on the dam section and its power intake.
“According to its design, this project is to serve more than 50 years. However, we worry that it can create a lot more problems in future during the operation of the plant. This will happen if there is no quality control,” Mr Byaruhanga said.