Judith Wangoic: WENRECO Not To Fault For Intermittent Power Supply In West Nile 

Officials of West Nile Rural Electrification Company (WENRECO), the company that was contracted by government to supply power in West Nile, have blamed the power outages and intermittent supply in the sub-region on Nyagak’s failure to generate the 3.5 Megawatts due to the seasonal dry spell and Electromaxx severe fuel shortages to generate the thermal electricity.

WENRECO officials raised the concern after a group of people claiming to operate under a pressure group known as the ‘Citizens Action for Improved Public Service delivery in West Nile (CAIPS)’, petitioned Parliament, calling upon government to rescind the contract that was signed between WENRECO and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, faulting the company for failing to supply power regularly.

It should however be noted that whereas the activists blame WENRECO for the constant power outages, the 20-year concession agreement signed between the company and government in 2003 stipulates it clearly that WENRECO was contracted to Supply, while Nyagak and Electromaxx were contracted to generate the power.

This inadvertently means that if Nyagak I Hydro plant fail to generate 3.5 Megawatts of Power and Electromaxx fail to generate enough thermal electricity [they are supposed to generate sometimes due to lack of fuel], then WENRECO has no power to supply to the consumers, although this cannot easily be understood by the populace.

“WENRECO as a supplier cannot supply power unless Nyagak I Hydro plant and Electromaxx generate the electricity. However, the biggest problems they currently face are;
1. Nyagak’s failure to generate the 3.5 Megawatts, operating way below its capacity because of the seasonal dry spell.
2. Electromaxx’ lack of fuel to generate the thermal electricity, yet their efforts to secure money for fuel from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the National Oil Company to buy the fuel have not yielded any fruits yet,” said Judith Wangoic, the WENRECO spokesperson.

The petitioners claimed in their petition that the unstable power supply in West Nile has greatly affected the economic development and service delivery, on top of contributing to insecurity in the region.

She however noted that the best solution for this problem is for government to ensure that Electromaxx and Nyagak have enough fuel to generate the electricity that WENRECO can supply to West Nile until when government connects the region to the National Power Grid, which is projected to be achievable by June 2023.

Wangoic revealed that in a bid to make power supply more adequate, WENRECO decided to demarcate power generation in West Nile by supplying the power from Electromaxx to areas of Arua and Yumbe, while the power generated by Nyagak would be supplied to areas of Zombo, Nebbi and Packwach, but this has been adversely by the fuel shortages.

“We need politicians and opinion leaders to tell people about the life in West Nile before power came. Those days power would be supplied for only four hours and to key government installations like schools, hospitals, the police etc. But all this has since changed and we have gone through several phases to reach where we are today. Our biggest challenge remains fuel shortage and once that is solved by the government, the intermittent power supply being experienced nowadays shall cease, because when there is fuel then we shall have regular power supply,” she added.

Wangoic noted that as WENRECO, they no longer experience regular faults like power outages due to thunderstorms, vandalism or breakdowns, but that it is only fuel shortages impeding them from operating at full capacity.

“The infrastructure has been improved over time, there are a lot of maintenance works being done on the powerlines and technical engineers are doing everything to ensure there are minimal interruptions in power supply, although there are challenges beyond their mandate, especially fuel shortages experienced by Electromaxx and Nyagak’s seasonal water levels going up and down,” Wangoic said.

However, on his part, the Arua City Mayor Sam Wadri Nyakua, revealed that the endless power outage has adversely affected the people of West Niles in as far as education, health, security and business are concerned.

While addressing the matter, Mayor Wadri said; “Yes, it is true there is an improvement in the way WENRECO is supplying power. But we need enough power for business and security. For instance, when there is no power that is when robbers do most of the robbing.

According to the mayor, West Nnile should must be given enough electricity via the national grid the way it is in Western Uganda where even a small center has more than enough electricity because that’s where their milk processing begins before it can be sent to Kampala and beyond.

“That’s the seriousness we want to see in Arua as opposed to being taken for granted as if we are only meant to be voting machines for the system, there is for instance this tobacco company that employs over 500 people; that is the kind of factory we want. But how can we attract investors to this region when the power supply is insufficient? Because if that tobacco company I’m talking about starts operating at full capacity, it will consume all the power and the rest or the places in West Nile will be in darkness.”

During a recent visit to Nyagak III power dam, Ruth Nankabirwa, the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, appealed to locals to remain calm as works on the Nyagak III power dam project and putting the region on the national grid is serious consideration.

 

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