Kampala, Uganda – Bujagali and Kiira power dams have been fully restored and producing power units to their expected capacity, three days after their turbines were clogged by a floating island. The country suffered a blackout after two acres of a floating island clogged the turbines of the 180 MW Nalubaale hydro-electric power station on Tuesday.
According to ESKOM Uganda Limited, the company with a concession to operate and maintain Nalubaale and Kiira Hydro Power stations, the floating island which originated from Lake Victoria basin as a result of the current rising water levels created extensive debris and waste material that blocked the water intake screens through which water for power generation is transported.
It also caused a blockage of the cooling pipe systems that drew water from the Dam reservoir for purposes of cooling the generating machinery. In the aftermath, Nalubaale shifted some power generation from Nalubaale Power Station to Kiira Power Station in order to minimize the risk to the generating units. But Eskom lost generation from both plants due to unstable system frequency.
Over the last three days, teams from the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces –UPDF, Marine and Engineering departments, The Ministry of Works and Transport and Uganda National Roads Authority have been working to clear the floating island to allow the resumption of normal operations at the two power stations.
On Friday morning, ESKOM’s Chief Executive Officer Thozama Gangi said that Bujagali’s 250 megawatts and 200 megawatts at Kiira dam are currently available to boost Isimba’s 183 megawatts. Thozama added that the agencies are working tirelessly to ensure that the six units at the Nalubaale power plant are fully restored and operational to cater for the country’s surplus demands.
She notes that since most factories have downsized their operations following the COVID-19 lockdown, the electricity demand has lowered to 500 megawatts which will be availed on a daily basis to avoid load shedding.
Thozama says that Eskom engineers have teamed up with their counterparts from the national environment management authority to ensure that another semi-island which is floating along Lake Victoria is intercepted before ramming into the dam.
Meanwhile, the commander of the UPDF engineers brigade, Besigye Bekunda says that drones have been deployed to capture accurate images of possible floating islands towards the power generation plants.