Chinese Company Wins Karuma Dam Bid

Irene Muloni, Uganda's Energy Minister

Irene Muloni, Uganda's Energy Minister
Irene Muloni, Uganda’s Energy Minister

The government of Uganda has awarded the deal to construct the mega Karuma Hydropower Dam to Chinese company, China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE).

The decision to award the Chinese company the multibillion deal has been preceded by close to two years of lengthened court battles that saw multiple revocations, sanctions, investigations including a repeat of the technical evaluation processes.

China Gezhouba Group, Salini Constructorri, Sinohydro & CMC Karuma JVC and Vinci Construction Grands, Orascom Industries & Group Five International Consortium are the other companies that participated in the bidding process.

On Friday, the bid was opened at the Ministry of Energy in Kampala. Approximately $1.4 billion (Shs3.4 trillion) was tabled by the Chinese for engineering, procurement and construction of the 600MW dam. Perlite Construction Company Ltd also made it to the final stage.

According to the acting permanent secretary Eng. Paul Mubiru, the project whose cost is estimated at $2.2 billion (Shs5.9 trillion) is behind schedule.

There have been complaints of irregularity and corruption in the tendering processes that have drew the attention of the Inspector General of Government who directed that the whole process be stayed.

According to some sources in the office of the IGG, the process was compromised and the outcome of the re-evaluation biased.

Last Friday, the Inspectorate of Government wrote to the permanent secretary alleging that some officials in the ministry had been compromised by one of the six bidding firms.

Last November, the High Court stayed the process after some of the bidding companies protested that the evaluating team had been compromised.

According to the IGG, mediation by court had not improved the process because the technical evaluation brought back a company accused of misrepresenting information in its bid.

The IGG’s notice, which the ministry disregarded, is the second halt order—the first having been issued by the High Court months back. The court process was disposed of and the ministry went ahead to evaluate the financial bids before announcing the winner on Friday.

The government hopes the dam’s 600MW will provide security for the country’s growing energy demands although it has been delayed by what many are blaming on politicking. Energy analysts have also given a damning prediction concerning the completion of the project, they say the project will take 10 years to compete.

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