September 9, 2020 8:09 am
The Uganda Electricity Distribution Company Limited has today the 17 August 2020 played host to the National Planning Authority (NPA) team at its Lugogo creosote pole treatment plant. The host Mr. Mwesigwa Paul- UEDCL MD was in the company of some senior members of top management notable among was Mr. Protaze Tibyakinura-Chief Operations Officer & Mr. Kizito Oidu Franklin-Chief Technical Officer. Whilst the NPA team was led by Eng. George Bwanga – Manager in charge of Infrastructure, Industry and Physical Planning.
The NPA’s visit to the UEDCL pole treatment plant was meant to take stock of the company’s contribution concerning the implementation of the NDPII which ended on June 30, 2020. The other reasons, he said, was related to the human rights approach that the company used to deliver the services to its clients as well as document its success stories in service delivery.
“We are impressed with work they are doing and the planned expansion that they are working on,” Bwanga said. He added that most government agencies that they have visited have very good plans on paper but have limited finances to meet their investment plans. He also said land acquisition remains a big challenge for most projects the government is undertaking.
Meanwhile, UEDCL is seeking for US$3.1million (approx. Shs11billion) to start the construction of its mega pole production plant in Wakiso District.
Mr. Mwesigwa Paul, the managing director for UEDCL told the NPA team that they are in the process of securing funds to kick start the construction in the next one or two years.
Mr. Mwesigwa, who was speaking to the National Planning Authority (NPA) technical team’s that had visited the company’s pole plant in Lugogo, Kampala, said UEDCL intends to borrow 70% of the funds from Uganda Development Bank and the rest from the company’s savings towards the plant construction.
“All approvals have been attained including architectural designs and environmental impact assessments,” he said, adding that the project once completed will complement the government’s efforts towards achieving universal electricity access.
He said the project will consist of three plants – concrete pole plant ($1.6m), creosote pole plant ($0.8m) and CCA pole plant ($0.7m).
Sitting on 75 acres of land at Kyampisi, Namayumba Town Council – Wakiso district, the project is part of the company’s strategic plan 2020/2021-2024/2025 that corresponds to the National Development Plan III (2020/21-2024/2025) that also strives to fill the electricity supply gap across the country which remains a thorn to the electricity sector.
“ Were currently producing 250,000 creasote treated wooden utility poles pa annum which is far below the national market demand of 270,000”, Said, Jonan Kiiza, the senior corporate affairs and public relations officer at UEDCL. He further adds that, the deficit is filled by supply from private treatment plants that have quality challenges.
Even at its preamble stage, the UEDCL executives noted that the Kyampisi project is already transforming lives in the host communities as utilities such as power is already sourced at the site.
The company has also set aside 30 acres of land to plant eucalyptus trees as well as secured a PPDA accreditation to allow registered local youth, women and disabled groups to plant, maintain and handover one year old forests, a direction that will promote social-economic transformation within the host communities.
Mr. Mwesigwa said that the government’s Operation Wealth Creation programme could take advantage of the planned project through providing of seedlings to farmers that are likely to supply trees to the project as they mature.
“ UEDCL is indirectly contributing to the national environmental conservation strategies” Said, Kiiza- UEDCL’s Spokesperson., adding, the company buys mature eucalyptus trees of 8-12 years, and as the farmer waits for the grand harvest, the carbon cover is also preserved.
About The Lugogo plant
This pole plant has got a 35,000 annual installed production capacity and currently employs 38 people. It is however operating below capacity – producing 25, 000 poles a year. The plant was established in 1956 shortly after Uganda commissioning its first hydropower station at the Owen Falls Dam.
The plant was established on the account of producing high-quality wooden utility poles which were to be used in setting up a robust distribution and transmission infrastructure.
“ This mandate has been sustained to date and the same poles have also been sold to Umeme Limited and to other projects under government rural electrification programmes”, Said Kiiza- UEDCL’s Spokesperson.
The pole plant is certified under ISO 9001:2015, a key aspect that allowed its products to be exported to Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan markets and beyond.
“UEDCL spends Shs10 billion annually to purchase mature eucalyptus trees 8-12 years from the local farmers” Said, Mr. Protaze Tibyakinura- Chief Operation Officer. He added that this has had a positive economic bearing to the farmers and the country at large.
The executives said the treated poles are fixed with a radio frequency identification tag before leaving the plant for grid digital traceability and also creating a difference since they may be fake products out in the market.
UEDCL is a government agency established by the electricity Act of 1999 to own all assets of 33kV and below. Through government of Uganda’s foreign direct investment strategy, UEDCL assets were concessioned to Umeme Limited for 20 years starting April 1, 2005 excluding off-grid areas of Moroto, Moyo, and Adjumani that were not commercially viable. The company is currently licensed by the Electricity Regulatory Authority to distribute power in eight service territories across Uganda.
By JK- Corporate Affairs.