NWSC Loses Shs100m in 6 hours over Isimba!

NWSC Jinja officials say the water treatment plant at Masese stopped operation on August 12 and water worth Shs100m was not supplied.



National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) Jinja area management lost Shs100m in six hours following power outages occasioned by the emergency shutdown of the 183MW Isimba hydropower plant in Kayunga District.

Mr Charles Okuonzi, the NWSC Jinja area general manager, said the water treatment plant located at Masese in Jinja Southern Division stopped operation on the evening of August 12 and water worth Shs100m was not supplied.

He said the machines at the water treatment plant cannot be run by the usual generators because they supply water to Jinja, Iganga, Mayuge, as well as parts of Buikwe and Kayunga.

“Our pump supplies water up to the district of Iganga in Busoga and Buikwe in central Buganda. So getting a generator to run a heavy-duty machine installed is not easy and doesn’t come on the cheap,’’ he told Sunday Monitor on Friday.

Mr Okuonzi further revealed that the fuel required to run a generator that can prop the water treatment plant may require the company to set up its own fuel station.

Using generators is perceived as “expensive” and “unsustainable” because the cost can’t be covered by the current tariffs.

To be specific The Homeland understands that the water treatment plant in Masese pumps close to 32 million litres of water per day.

If a power outage straddles a full day, this will translate in customers not having water supply for three days.
Mr Okuonzi said what explains this is the fact that the machines take a long time to recharge after they are switched off.

The machines in question supply water to lines spanning nearly 1,000 kilometres. Energy distributor Umeme has consequently been urged to exclude the power line leading to the water line from the load shedding schedule.

Last week, Umeme spokesperson Peter Kaujju told Journalists in Kampala that the county’s leading energy distributor grapples with “a shortfall of about 90MW during peak hours” on a daily basis.

“We can’t shut off everybody at the same time, so we’re doing it in about three lots. If you have power for about two days, then you’ll have an interruption which we’re calling load shedding,” Mr Kaujju said, adding, “This will possibly translate into between 100 and 100,000 customers that are affected during that time.”

Mr Okuonzi said they will be communicating to customers when the pump will not be working if Umeme avails them the load shedding schedules so that the customers are not taken by surprise.

Frequent power outages have been reported in Jinja City, especially in areas of Bugembe and Masese in the Southern Division.

Mr Michael Oputo, Umeme’s Jinja operations manager, said “the issue of power blackout will be rectified when the dam (Isimba) is worked on and we have enough power.”
Energy minister Ruth Nankabirwa has previously said this could take up to “six months.”

Uganda currently has an installed electricity generation capacity of 1,182.2MW, largely from hydropower dams.

Of these, 813MW is from large hydropower dams, including Isimba, Bujagali with a plant capacity of 250MW, and Nalubaale and Kiira dams with a combined capacity of 380MW.

An additional 119.45MW is generated by mini hydro dams on various rivers around the country.
Another 101MW is generated from thermal plants, whose cost is six times higher than the hydro power.

Despite the large generation capacity, average peak demand for electricity stands at 630MW, leaving 552MW unconsumed.

Other affected businesses

Power outages in Jinja City have crippled operations of many businesses. Mr Ayub Kakaire, a salon operator in Bugembe, said he incurs more expenses to buy diesel for a generator to keep his business running. On average, he said he buys “four litres of diesel” when load shedding takes root.

“With each litre of diesel costing Shs6,000, I end up spending over Shs20,000 more on powering my  barber shop on a day when there is a power outage,’’ he said.

Mr James Mudiba, a café operator, said he has incurred a lot of losses because he has spent days without working due to power blackouts.

“I can’t manage diesel for a full day because its price also escalated. I opt to close until power is back… We appeal to those concerned to intervene because we are not working in this economic crisis,’’ he said.

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