Investigators: Cracks Won’t Affect Karuma Dam Functionality

A team of dam construction experts at Karuma dam during the investigation (Courtesy photo)

A team of dam construction experts from Sinohydro Corporation China has said the cracks which were reported on the spillway at the Karuma Dam currently under construction are just “common cracks in construction industry” which are remediable and therefore won’t affect the overall functionality of the 600MW dam.

This was a contained in a report the experts handed over to UEGCL this week following three weeks of intensive investigations.

President Museveni recently ordered the suspension of engineers at Karuma and Isimba dams over the cracks.

On Karuma dam, web said Museveni, pills “defects are visible in the concrete of the dam and intake structures through cracks, troche honeycombs, cold joints and unsealed holes where protruding formwork supports were being cut from the concrete etc.”

He said on Isimba Dam, “defects on the two draft tubes which are being assembled in position are observed through numerous unnecessary cuts and welds, bends on outer sections of the installed draft tubes etc and defects in concrete as those observed at Karuma.”

He urged Energy Minister Irene Muloni to investigate the matter seriously.

Following a visit to the dam recently, Muloni instructed that work on the Spillway be put on hold and investigation be carried out to ascertain the impact of the cracks on the overall functionality of the dam.

Acting on the Minister’s directive, the team of Experts from Sinohydro China, led by Mr. Yang Yixin arrived in Uganda on April 20 to carry out detailed investigation and has handed over a report with remedial steps to be taken to Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited (UEGCL).

“The cracks after treatment with appropriate methodology shall have no adverse effect on the overall dam structure and its functionality. Sinohydro has commenced the procurement of equipment and materials for the treatment of cracks”, the report stated.

According to the report, the experts in a course of three weeks “worked in conjunction with over 30 specialists in design and construction of concrete works on the ground and in China to analyze the causes of cracks and formulate remedial measures for the treatment and draft preventative/improvement measures to be adopted in concrete works construction based on the study of the drilled cores and construction methodologies.”

The investigators also finalized the Report on Dam Concrete Crack Analysis and Preventative/Improvement Measures and submitted to OE, UEGCL and the Owner for assessment and approval within the one month time prescribed by the Minister of Energy.


There have been fears that Karuma Dam would follow in the footsteps of Ethiopia’s Gibe 11 dam in Ethiopia which was washed away one week after commissioning.

With a price tag of 374 million Euros and a capacity of 420 megawatts, Gilgel Gibe 2 was at the time Ethiopia’s biggest power plant.

After its commissioning by the late Ethiopian premier Meles Zenawi, the project’s core component, a 26-kilometer-long tunnel, collapsed, shutting down operations.

Karuma Hydropower Project is located in Kiryadongo district, which is also partly home of Karuma Wildlife Reserve and is planned to produce 600 megawatts of electricity.

Contracted by M/S Sinohydro Corporation, a Chinese corporation, Karuma dam will cost $1.4bn minus interest paid on the staggering loan from a Chinese bank.

The Isimba Power project is undertaken by China International Water and Electric Corporation. This project will cost USD 567,738,990.96 financed by the government of Uganda and a concessional loan from the Export-import Bank of China.


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