Construction works at Karuma Power Station project has registered significant success with installation of key components bringing the general works closer to completion.
A key milestone in the construction of the power station is the installation of draft tubes and the associated concrete works in the Power house section. As the name suggests, the draft tube is a specialized pipe through which water flows after running the turbine blades. In a hydro power station such as Karuma, water is used to run turbine blades which in turn rotate a metallic rod called a shaft on which the elements of electricity generation are mounted. The draft tube is therefore a major component in a hydro power station, its installation a worthy milestone. Karuma Hydro power station shall be fitted with six (6) generating units (turbines) which means six draft tubes. All the six have been installed. Each draft tube weighs approximately 68,000Kg (sixty eight thousand). “This is a case of extreme engineering,” said Sinohydro project manager Mr. Deng Changyi, adding “work on the draft tube involved assembling several steel units by precise welding.”
Supervised by Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL) on behalf of the Government of Uganda and built by China’s Sinohydro corporation, the Karuma hydropower project commencement date was 16th December 2013 and planned for 60 calendar months. As at end of June, the project was into its 42nd month with overall physical progress at 59%.
“Progress of works at the Dam and associated works was slow during the 2017 second quarter, partly due to the defects (i.e. cracks at the Stilling Basin) identified in the concrete works which necessitated detailed investigation and monitoring,” said Dr. Eng. Harrison E. Mutikanga, the Chief Executive officer UEGCL. “We are however pushing the contractor to use every available resource to play catch up.” Some of the measures the contractor is mooting to reduce delay in completion of the project is mobilization of more human resources and equipment.
According to Sinohydro, the next major installation is the spiral casing for all the six units. The spiral casing is another passage, spiral in shape that guides water into the turbine chamber to facilitate movement. “So far, the first unit of the spiral case has been assembled and the second unit is also nearing completion. We will start the installation of first unit of the spiral case within the coming week,” Mr. Deng said.
Once complete, the Karuma Hydroelectric Power Station shall have an installed generation capacity of 600 Megawatts with transmission lines running from Karuma to Kawanda, near Kampala; Karuma to Olwiyo on Pakwach road and Karuma to Lira.
As part of the project corporate social footprint, two hospitals and a school are envisaged. “Currently we have identified the land where these social amenities shall be built, it has been surveyed, scheme designs and architectural drawings made,” said Simon Kasyate, the Corporate Affairs manager UEGCL under whose docket corporate social responsibility lies. “As soon as we have all the requisite approvals from the local governments and line ministries of Health and that of Education, building shall start.” One of the hospitals will be built in Masindi Military barracks and shall serve both the civilian and military population around that facility.