Power distribution company, UMEME Limited has announced a three day nationwide power blackout as the county grapples with rising water levels in Lake Victoria.
“We have formally been informed by the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited that there will be emergency load shedding to allow the generation plants at Nalubaale, Kira, Bujagali and Isimba to undergo critical water releases,” an announcement by UMEME reads in part.
The blackout will be experienced for three days on Saturday May 9, Sunday May 10 and Monday May 11 between 9am and 5pm every day.
The power distribution company however in the notice says that whereas the blackout will affect the entire country, some parts will have power.
“All efforts are being made to minimize the impact of this and a load shedding schedule will be shared in due course.”
Experts have revealed that Lake Victoria water levels have risen to their highest in more than 50 years after rising to a record high of 13.4 metres, a mark last recorded in 1964,
The Minister for Water and Environment Sam Cheptoris recently explained that because Lake Victoria is shared by the three countries of East Africa including Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, it has over 23 rivers flowing into it and when it rains, an increase in the waters of the rivers sees a direct increase in the water they pour into the largest fresh water lake on the continent.
“Some of these rivers originate as far as Rwanda and Burundi and therefore when it rains in Burundi, water finds its way into Lake Victoria. There is however, only one exit through River Nile at Jinja,” he said.
“The quick rise in water level has also been accelerated by human activities especially environmental degradation. Loss of forest cover, encroachment on wetlands, lakeshores and river banks including poor land use practices; have resulted in soil erosion leading to siltation of our water bodies. This has resulted in speedy movement of water into the lakes and rivers with a lot of silt which has further reduced water storage capacities of our water bodies.”
Because of the rising water levels, dams are affected and the best solution according to experts is spill away excess water to avoid damage.
Early this year, Eskom spilled water at Nalubaale and Kiira power stations in Jinja.
“It(water) would compromise the operations and safety of the dams,” said Peter Tentena, the Eskom Operations Manager in February.
He explained that too much water subjects the dams to excessive pressure which affects their lifespan.
Therefore, the current exercise will see 2400 cubic metres per second of water spilled for both Nalubaale and Kira dams.