COMMISSIONED IN 1963, THE PLANT’S ORIGINAL CAPACITY WAS 0.8MW BUT ERA SAYS IT CAN BE PUSHED UP TO 4MW
The Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Environment has received news of plans to revive government’s abandoned Maziba ‘micro’ Hydro Power Plant with a lot of excitement.
The Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) is however, yet to decide on whether the facility undergoes total redevelopment or mere refurbishment, though proposals by developers are being studied.
The members led by Dr. Emmanuel Otaala, the West Budama South legislator got this good information as they toured this and many other power projects in western Uganda as part of their oversight function yesterday.
According to the Eng. Daniel Oringa, the Principal Compliance Engineer at power regulator-ERA, Maziba which is among the 3rd oldest hydro power Plants after Nalubaale and Kasese, was commissioned in 1963 with a generation capacity of 0.8MW. He however, informed members that in the proposed revival of the facility, it will be pushed to generate 4MW thanks to new technology.
At this dam located in Kabale district, are very old structures of what used to be control room, generation room among others but most importantly, skulls of what used to be generation machines which have since been mercilessly vandalized.
The Plant’s water inlet side is however, still relatively intact with less signs of weaknesses thanks to high quality cement material that was used during it’s construction.
Over all according to Eng. Oringa, if we need a new Plant, everything should be replaced.
“We can redevelop it but with new technology. We can push it up to about 4MW” he said as ERA took members around the defunct facility.
He revealed that developers have already tabled proposals before the Electricity Regulatory Authority headed by CEO Eng. Ziria Tibalwa Waako and that; the power regulator is to decide the way forward.
“This site is undergoing studies to decide whether it undergoes total redevelopment or refurbishment” he said.
Eng. Ziria informed members that Maziba, which was run under Uganda Electricity Board was set up to support demand in Kabale and Kigezi subregion in general.
Meanwhile, the committee welcomed the idea of bringing back to use this facility but however, wondered why the works have delayed yet parliament has been passing funds for it to come back to life.
“For the last two Financial Years, we have been passing money for this. We’re going to follow up and see if money was released, why is work not done?” He said.
OTHER SITES VISITED
Meanwhile, besides Maziba, ERA also took the members to other various power Plants and projets in a bid to make them appreciate it’s efforts to make a robust Electricity Supply Industry. The committee was in central and western regions to perform it’s oversight function, one of the roles of Members of Parliament.
One such other Plants they visited in western was Muvumbe Hydro Power Plant also located in Kabale district in Ndorwa. Construction work for this plant began in 2015 and was commissioned two years later in 2017. The plant which has a 2.5km artificial water channel made of concrete from it’s inlet to the generation site, passes through the hilly ranges until it settles at a lower altitude (downstream) where the generation site and substation are situated.
In total, it’s generation capacity is 6.5MW but when the hydrology of the river especially during the dry season is low, generation goes down to about 4MW. The committee hailed Eng. Ziria alongside ERA board led by Dr. Sarah Wasagali Kanaabi for powering the country which Otaala said will greatly fuel industrialization and socioeconomic transformation.
The committee was also led to a new power substation being set up in Kabale. This site was started in March 2023 but it’s projected for completion by September this year. This substation costing USD13.75m is being seen as a key player in the industrialization agenda for this subregion and also transnational power supply. For example, Ziria informed the committee that there’s a proposed factory for iron ore around this area and also the Kisoro Industrial park, all of which require stable and reliable power supply. The substation will be connected to Mirama substation (132KV), meaning an extension of the grid to Kigezi subregion and therefore, neighbouring countries such as Rwanda with whom Uganda does trade in electricity.
According to site managers, in the past year, 27% of work involving mainly civil works has been done while manufacturing of transformer and related equipment is also ready. These only await testing before shipment and later, installation begins to beat the projected deadline.
“(Getting) this substation on the ground has been a long process. It has been under study for 10years. It actually takes 10years to incubate these projects. Even people of West Nile have been complaining (of not being connected to the national grid), but it’s a long process we go through” Ziria said, citing some of the processes as feasibility study, procurement, environmental impact assessment among others all of which take time.