Deputy Speaker of Parliament Thomas Tayebwa has tasked the Natural Resources Committee to investigate matters regarding the Isimba power plant and report back in 3 weeks.
“This is a dam we commissioned not more than 2 years ago. We know the rain patterns, so how can we say we never foresaw such a situation, and can we remedy it?” Tayebwa questioned before assigning the committee to investigate.
Tayebwa yesterday demanded that energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa presents a statement to Parliament on the emergencey total shutdown of the Isimba Hydropower Plant.
And while appearing before Parliament, Nankabirwa revealed that at about 11 am on 8th August 2022, Isimba Powerhouse flooded and some equipment were affected.
On a positive note, she assured Parliament that Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited will restore power production at Isimba Hydropower Plant within 3 weeks. Testing of the plant has commenced today, she said.
The Kitgum District Woman Representative, Lillian Aber, said her biggest concern is the suppliers that the ministry of energy normally gives work. You need to take a keen interest that we give contracts to people who do not have the capacity to deliver, she told Nankabirwa.
Some MPs questioned why Uganda, a country that produces excess electricity, is now wallowing because of a shutdown at Isimba and now has to import it from Kenya.
“If a dam that generates 183MW breaks down when we have excess power, then there is no way the minister can come to Parliament to tell us that we are importing power from Kenya because of the situation in Isimba” Abed Bwanika, MP Kimaanya-Kabonera questioned.
Another MP, Alioni Odria, MP Aringa South, asked: “The issue of generating power and not utilizing it is such a joke. Why is it that we have power that is generated and not utilized yet the whole of West Nile region does not have electricity?”
In response, Nankabirwa said the power is excess because ‘we are not using it.’ Bwanika said that 81% of Ugandans are not on the power grid, yet power is a driver of the economy.
Nankabirwa in a press release on Tuesday informed the public that the shutdown of Isimba was due to operational challenges that led to the flow of water into the powerhouse. The shutdown was undertaken as a safety procedure.
To ensure continuity of electricity supply in the country, Nankabirwa explained that Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) was considering the importation of approximately 60megawatts from Kenya, dispatching up to 50 megawatts from Namanve Thermal Power plan, dispatch of 20 megawatts from Kakira Sugar Power plants.
Other measures are optimization of the generation capacity of available power plants across the country, suspension of any planned and non-emergency shutdown/outage permits and implementation of load shedding to balance power demand and supply and ensure that grid stability is achieved and sustained.