The New Times (Kigali)

30 April 2014

Rwanda: Lawmakers Task EWSA On Faulty Power Plants

Members of parliamentary Public Accounts Committee have criticised the Energy, Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) over dysfunctional power grids in some parts of the country.

The MPs were on Monday touring the utility's hydropower plants in various areas of the Western and Northern provinces to assess their capacity.

Led by Juvenal Nkusi, the committee chairperson, the MPs toured EWSA power facilities in Burera and Musanze districts, where they received reports that some power plants had broken down due to technical problems while others are operating below capacity.

The plants visited included Rugezi and Ntaruka in Burera District, Mukungwa I in Musanze District. In Western Province, they visited Nkora, Kimbiri, Ndashashi, Gasha, Keye and Gihira I and II.

It was noted that Rugezi hydropower plant in Burera District with capacity to generate 2.2MW had broken down. It had two turbines and two alternators, one of which was damaged almost two years ago, while another broke down last year.

Nkora power plant accumulator in Rusizi District worth $2,500 was damaged six months ago, causing a loss of over Rwf600 million to the company.

Gasha and Rugezi plants broke down while Ntaruka works below capacity after the spherical valve broke down.

Ntaruka plant is currently generating 6MW instead of between 10MW and 12.5MW it is supposed to produce.

Ewsa officials said the problem in Rugezi was due to fake materials used by the contractor whose contract was terminated after it failed to execute the work.

Tianjin Mingshuo, which was subcontracted to take over, is still awaiting government to clear the pending invoices to resume its activities, they said.

'No excuses'

But MP Nkusi said the fact that plants are not working due to lack of materials that could have been bought was not an excuse, but a sign of irresponsibility.

"It is negligence because a plant can't fail to work for six months over spare parts that cost $2,500, yet you could have got a new one to save more than Rwf600 million. It means that there is a problem. Waiting for six months while we need electricity is unacceptable," he said.

"If you look at Rugezi hydro power plant, it has been months without operating, what caused the damage? Wasn't it properly done? Was it due to lack of follow up? It is negligence as officials failed to supervise the contractors."

The MPs told EWSA to address the problems.

"There is money we injected in power plants and the money you are paid per month; imagine the loss you have caused in eight months. We approve the National Budget and we need its accountability. If we have seen six plants that are not working in eight months, it is a big loss," said MP Marie Mediatrice Izabiriza.

Iddo Musana, the head of power plant maintenance at EWSA, attributed the maintenance delays to lack of spare parts due to long procurement processes.

"Procurement process is not fast enough. In some cases, we advertise a tender but bidders fail because of the type of spare parts we need," said Musana.

But Nkusi said Public Procurement law protects any official buying materials in emergency period without undergoing through the normal procurement process.

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