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HomeAfricaMPs join forces in fixing erratic West Nile power supply

MPs join forces in fixing erratic West Nile power supply

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Parliament has urged government to find a lasting solution to the sporadic power outages in the West Nile region.

The House on Thursday, 11 August 2022 adopted a motion urging government to immediately address the electricity supply challenges in the West Nile region. The motion was presented by Hon. Lawrence Biyika, the Ora County MP.

In his motion, Biyika urged government to urgently provide funds to the Uganda National Oil Company (UNOC) to supply fuel to ELECTROMAXX, for them to generate the licensed 8.2 megawatts of electricity to be supplied to West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECO) for stable electricity supply.

To address the power shortage in West Nile which has never been connected to the national grid, government in 2003 granted a concession agreement to the WENRECO to generate, distribute and sell electricity for 20 years.

Another company, ELECTROMAXX was introduced to supplement power generation in the region following the constant failure to supply electricity by WENRECO.

Biyika in his motion tasked the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to fast-track the evacuation of electricity (132 KV line National Grid) to West Nile and also speed the work at the substations in Arua and Nebbi districts to enable the region to get connected to the national grid.

POOR SERVICE: Hon. Lawrence Biyika called for a forensic audit of ELECTROMAXX operations as he presented the motion

The motion also called for a forensic audit of the operations of ELECTROMAXX to ascertain whether Uganda had obtained value for money for the period ELECTROMAXX has operated in West Nile.

“A compliance audit be carried out on Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) about the operations of ELECTROMAXX and WENRECO,” the report reads.

The motion also urged the government to release all the required funds to speed up the completion of the 6.6 megawatts at Nyagak 111 and replace the second turbine at Nyagak to generate a 3.5 megawatts installed capacity instead of the current 1.7 currently being produced.

The MPs present in the House unanimously seconded the motion, and debated in its favour, calling on government to resolve the power challenges in the West Nile region.

Hon. Geoffrey Feta, the MP for Ayivu Division East in Arua City, said that insecurity in the Central Business District in Arua has risen because of the lack of electricity, adding that several people have been robbed and attacked.

“ELECTROMAXX does not have the capacity to generate electricity, they have consistently run out of fuel. ELECTROMAXX has got fuel from local suppliers and failed to pay,” he said.

The Deputy Speaker, Thomas Tayebwa, said that the matter of electricity in Arua has been long overdue and has been on the Floor of Parliament for a long time.

He said that the Electricity Regulatory Authority had previously detailed how ELECTROMAXX did not have the capacity to deliver on the contract.

“The information I have is that whereas they were charging money for eight megawatts, they were supplying only five megawatts. Later, ERA discovered that these people were being paid for the electricity they were not supplying,” Tayebwa said.

The Deputy Speaker tasked the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources to travel to West Nile next week so that the issue of power can be sorted once and for all.

He also tasked the energy minister to assess how much was invested in ELECTROMAXX compared to how much electricity they supplied.

AUDIO: Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa

“The committee should hold a hearing. You hear from ELECTROMAXX and the owners of Nyagak Power Dam. We want you to study the agreement and we want you to know if it is being implemented to the letter.” Tayebwa directed.

He asked the committee to proceed quickly and work with guidance from the Attorney General.

The energy minister, Ruth Nankabirwa (R) engaging MPs Charles Tebandeke (L) and Fred Kayondo in the lobby prior to the day’s session

Dr Noah Musa, the Koboko North County MP, said that while working in hospitals in West Nile 10 years ago, power blackouts often affected the quality of care accorded to patients sadly. He was saddened that the trend continues to date.

“Our students are unable to study overnight, and you remember during COVID-19, they were not able to study online. The same thing applies to access to government services,” he said.

Hon. Esther Afoyochan, the District Woman MP for Zombo said that as MPs, they ably execute their roles but are frustrated by the lack of services citing an example of how their efforts in setting up a tea factory in Zombo were being thwarted by lack of electricity.

AUDIO: Hon. Esther Afoyochan

“While we are trying to solve the factory issue and almost succeeding, we now have the power issue. I pray that this time around, we get a solution that can work for our people,” she said.

Hon. Charles Onen, the Laroo-Pece MP said that the services of the electricity providers in West Nile should be terminated and another competent firm awarded the contract.

Judith Alyek, the Woman MP for Kole district said that if electricity was stable in West Nile, poverty would have been eliminated. She says that affirmative action needed to be accorded to West Nile, adding that no region should be left behind as far as equal opportunities are concerned.

Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, acknowledging that the issue of electricity in West Nile had been a grave concern since the 8th Parliament, said government will amend the contract with ELECTROMAXX.

AUDIO: Minister Ruth Nankabirwa

The minister revealed that a final solution will be found in March 2023 when government imports turbines worth Shs22 billion, money not currently available.

Story by Parliament Of Uganda

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