August 10, 2013

KARUMA DAM: MP Questions Chinese Capacity

Kabale Municipality Member of Parliament Andrew Baryayanga has said SynoHydro, the company that was finally contracted to build Karuma Hydro power dam is not capable of constructing the dam.

Baryayanga says that besides being overly expensive, SynoHydro is incapable of constructing a dam of Karuma’s capacity adding that the company submitted false information to the president.

SynoHydro has been contracted to build Karuma Hydro power dam
SynoHydro has been contracted to build Karuma Hydro power dam

He told local media in an interview that the company has been blacklisted in several countries for doing shoddy work. Baryayanga said that SynoHydro was blacklisted in Mauritius, Botswana and Iran where it constructed a dam that did not produce a single megawatt.

He asked why the Ministry of Energy did not go through the right bidding process before hiring the company saying that it will be hard to hold it accountable in case something goes wrong. But Energy Minister Irene Muloni said time was being wasted on the bidding process with several allegations of bribery and court injunctions hindering the project.

State Minister for Energy Simon D’Ujanga told local media that under the bilateral arrangement where the construction of the dam will be funded 85 percent by China, the PPDA laws can be ignored.

He said the arrangement provides that the contractor comes from the country supporting the project and added that SynoHydro is the one that qualified among the companies that made presentations.

But Baryayanga asked why the Public Procurement process was overlooked yet the arrangement is not a grant but a loan. He said the government is in the habit of ignoring laws and institutions asking why such a loan was not approved by parliament.

The MP said SynoHydro is inefficient and expensive yet China Water Electric Corporation (CWEC) which had earlier won the contract passed evaluation highly. He said that while CWEC was to construct the dam at 1.3 billion dollars, SynoHydro will construct it at 2.1 billion dollars and the transmission line at 290 million dollars.

State Minister for Energy Simon D’Ujanga says that under the bilateral arrangement where the construction of the dam will be funded 85 percent by China
State Minister for Energy Simon D’Ujanga says that under the bilateral arrangement where the construction of the dam will be funded 85 percent by China

But D’Ujanga insisted that SynoHydro will construct Karuma at 1.3 billion dollars and the transmission line at 200 million dollars.

The dam construction was scheduled to commence in 2011 but was later postponed to early 2012, amidst accusations and counter accusations of bribery. The government decided to skip the proper bidding process and award the contract to SynoHydro under a bilateral arrangement with the government of China.

The arrangement D’Ujanga says is a soft loan that Uganda will pay back at an interest rate less than one percent. The construction of the 600Megawatt power project will finally start this month with the ground breaking ceremony scheduled for Monday August 12, 2013.

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