Uganda: Uetcl, Umeme in Final Lap to Replace Wooden Poles in North

Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) is in the final leg of completing the replacement of wooden poles with pylons between Lira and Tororo districts.

UETCL, under the project, has at least 20 kilometres left on a 300-kilometre stretch that has been operating on wooden poles for at least 64 years.

The move seeks to create a sustainable and reliable electricity supply network that will support growth, penetration and expansion of the electricity network.

The power subsector has in the last five years seen a lot of investments as government seeks to upgrade the network that had suffered under old age, tear and wear.

Umeme, under the northern Uganda refurbishing scheme, is also involved in a number of projects key among them upgrades on the Lira-Gulu and Kitgum line.

The upgrades include among others, replacement of wooden poles with concrete poles.

Mr John Baptist Magulu, the Umeme customer service engineer, said the power distributor is currently concentrating its investments, especially in northern Uganda, on upgrading the network to improve reliability by putting in place long-term facilities such as concrete poles in certain areas including swamps and swathes of dry lands that experience bush burning.

"The line from Lira to Gulu and Kitgum is being refurbished including installation of concrete poles in swampy areas," he said, noting they were also investing in equipment that will ensure that faults from third party networks do not affect the grid.

Northern Uganda, especially in areas of Gulu, has been suffering with intermittent power supply mainly blamed on an increase in demand, vandalism, destruction of supply facilities such as poles through bush burning.

Therefore, a number of investments such as new substations, supply line and poles infrastructure, among others, have in the last five years been directed in the region to improve supply and sustainability.

For instance, apart from concrete poles and substations, Umeme has invested in equipment that will ensure that faults on third party networks do not affect the grid while UETCL is developing a stringing high voltage line from Karuma Hydro Power Project to Lira.

The high voltage line is expected to mitigate the impact of faults between Tororo and Lira.

UETCL is also expected to put up a substation in Koro as well as construct new lines to Achwa, Gulu and Kitgum.

Key energy projects in northern Uganda

UETCL is seeking funds to extend the transmission grid from Lira through Gulu, Nebbi to Arua while UEDCL has constructed a line from the 41MW Achwa to Umeme's substation in Gulu.

Up to 90 per cent distribution projects are complete while the remaining work will be concluded by end of March 2021.

Northern Uganda has experienced good growth over the past years, which has come with an increase in electricity demand thus putting pressure on current supply.

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