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Fear As New Bujagali Dam Develops Cracks

Aerial downstream view of the Bujagali power plant

 

After only two years of operation, engineers have expressed fear after cracks and an array of other defects started to emerge in the new Bujagali Hydropower plant.

The country’s most expensive power source was commissioned in 2012 adding an extra 253 megawatts to the national grid.

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But with cracks, water seepages and rust developing fast inside the dam, concerns are emerging that it is unlikely to see its projected 50 years lifespan.

Speaking to Chimpreports at the sidelines of a continental Energy conference in Jinja yesterday, Ms Annet Namuleme, a civil engineer working with OM Energy, which runs the plant on behalf of Bujagali Energy Ltd [BEL] said so much was at stake if the developing defects are not contained fast.

Eng. Annet Namuleme Speaking to Chimpreports

Eng. Annet Namuleme Speaking to Chimpreports

According to Nalememe, cracks are developing mainly in the construction joints of the dam, and on the concrete surface.

This she says has led to dripping water in the galleries, due to poor curing and use of timber formwork which cannot control temperatures.

“The cracks caused seepages in the concrete and now we are seeing a brownish color all over the walls, an indication that the steel enforcement is rusting, which could have grave effects on the structural integrity of the concrete,” she said.

Worse still, Nameleme says the waters are contaminated with industrial waste, and their reaction with the metal and concrete is more destructive.

She adds that most of these defects could have been controlled during the designing phase yet continuous repairs could cause more damage.

Commissioning of the 2.1 Trillion hydropower dam in 2012 raised the country’s power production capacity and ended a long spell and constant load shedding.

[Picture showing water seepage inside the dam

[Picture showing water seepage inside the dam

Eng. Namuleme says that focus must now be trained on plastering the leakages, chemical reactions and seepages since water aggravates the silicate reaction.

“The contractor must also invest in applying a protective coat at least annually, especially along those water passages because unlike Kiira dam, about 70% of concrete at Bujagali is exposed to water, she added.

This however may not be undertaken easily because it is expensive and not included in the agreements.

“Remember concrete is the foundation of the hydropower dam, without its good structure and functioning integrity, the plant won’t lastlong.

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