No Manpower for Uganda’s Karuma Dam – Contractor


By Shem Oirere

The main contractor for the $2-billion Karuma Hydropower Project in Uganda says the project is facing acute shortage of suitable electrical engineers and skilled manpower to operate machines.

China’s Sinohydro Corp., which launched civil works on the 600-MW project in December, said it urgently needs the skilled personnel to ensure that construction is completed by 2018.

“We have so far recruited 168 workers, both Chinese and Ugandan, out of the required manpower of 2,500 for the project,” said Liu Jianguo, deputy project manager.

The firm had pledged to create at least 10,000 jobs for both Ugandans and Chinese during construction of the dam on the Nile River and on associated transmission lines.

The company had reserved the jobs of welders, porters, carpenters, masons, cooks and cleaners for Ugandans while more specialized jobs such as in electrical and mechanical engineering and in skilled trades have been reserved for qualified Ugandans and Chinese.

“We have acquired 10 sets of construction equipment, we have got the bridge financing from Ex-Im Bank, we have 50 Chinese engineers and 100 local employees,” said Jianguo.

Additional jobs will also be created for local residents who would supply construction materials such as steel, sand and aggregates.

Legal suits on the procurement process for the project and withdrawal of financiers, —such as the World Bank, Germany Development Bank and European Investment Bank after a fallout over the dam’s design and capacity—delayed the project for more than 30 months.

The project, which is 85% funded by China, with Uganda covering the remainder, will double the East African country’s installed capacity from the current 509 MW to 1,109 MW and also push up the number of people able to access grid electricity.

Currently only 5% of Uganda’s 30 million residents can do so.

China had previously confirmed increasing concerns over the rising number of Chinese workers in Africa, which it now estimates at 1 million; but the country pledged to address the concerns with time.

Zhong Jianhua, China’s special envoy to Africa, late last year told Reuters that the government had made Chinese companies aware that they could not use only Chinese workers.

Source: Engineering News Record