MPs Query Impact Of Energy Ministry Loans On Electricity Distribution

Parliament’s National Economy committee has raised concern about electricity connectivity challenges across the country, despite reports from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development indicating that several loan projects are close to completion.

This was during the committee meeting with officials from the Ministry who on Wednesday presented a progress report on 14 loans given the Energy sector and one to Mineral Development.

The committee pointed out the US Dollars 212 million (777.8 billion Shillings) loan for Bridging the Demand Gap Through the Accelerated Rural Electrification Programme (TBEA) aimed at connecting sub-counties with electricity.

Documents before the committee indicate that the loan from the Exim Bank of China accessed in April 2019 and expected to end in April this year aims at extending 11kv and 33kv networks plus associated low voltage supply to all unserved sub county headquarters and priority load growth centers including industries and social amenity centers.

According to the Ministry of Energy, the overall project implementation currently stands at 84 percent.

This raised questions from MPs who wondered why several sub-counties are yet to be connected to electricity

John Bosco Ikojo, the National Economy Committee chairperson demanded for specific figures of sub counties connected to electricity under the project and those yet to receive.

Ikojo directed that the Ministry officials prepare details of the impact of the different loans to the end users, focusing on those under rural electrification.

Midius Natukunda, the Rukungiri Woman MP said that none of the sub-counties in her district were connected to electricity and Bugabula South MP, Henry Maurice Kibalya also queried the costs of connection, saying they are too high for the local people.

He said that people are asked to pay between 700,000 and 1.2 million Shillings.

“I have 24 small trading centers in my constituency, only 14 are connected, you know my people produce a lot of milk, so when one switches on a milk cooler lights go off, and also the next user cannot have his on at the same time, people have resorted to using generators,” said Nyabushozi County MP Wilson Kajwengye.

For Moses Kabuusu, the Kyamuswa County MP, the quality and scope of energy connection will frustrate other government interventions like the new school curriculum which requires use of computers.

In response to the committee queries, Irene Batebe the Energy Ministry Permanent Secretary said that the construction works for the project were challenged by the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020 that delayed shipment of imported materials due to travel restrictions to China to undertake Factory Acceptance Tests (FATs) and the non-availability of shipping lines to transport the materials from abroad.

Batebe also cited vandalism and opposition from communities who refuse to be resettled over land valuations.

Some of the other electricity project loans under scrutiny by the MPs are the Energy for Rural Transformation (ERT) Phase III worth US Dollars 90 million, the Opuyo-Moroto 132 kV Electricity Transmission project, worth Euro 62.6 million, the Isimba Hydro Power Project worth US Dollars 482 million and others.                

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