Dam experts and engineers from Bridgezone Limited, a United Kingdom based company, have started a two-week inspection of the 60-year-old Nalubaale (Owen Falls) Dam in Jinja.
The Bridgezone technical director, Kimble West said he led a six-man team which included two divers, project manager, dive supervisor and a life support technician to carry out the exercise at the dam.
Bridgezone Ltd is a civil engineering consultancy, specializing in difficult access inspection with extensive experience in rope access, bridge inspection, diving and confined space operations.
"Our company was hired to come and assess the condition of the dam, find out the magnitude of the cracks and after make a report which we will hand over to Eskom Uganda Ltd," said West. He said they started with a two-day underwater inspection on Saturday.
West added that they used a cage in which one of their divers was put and immersed underwater by a help of a crane at the bridge.
He said the diver with full frogman gears had a torch and an underwater video camera he used in filming the cracks located 25 meters under the water at the dam. The videos were visibly seen and recorded by a diver supervisor who was stationed on a pick up track at the bridge way.
Eskom acting technical director Peter Tentena, said the inspection involved a crane, which occupied part of the road and was used to let divers into the water with their machines.
Tentena said the faults they are looking out for include cracks on the walls of the dam, which must be filled to prevent leakage into the metals that form the electricity power production plant.
He said Eskom contracted Interface Uganda Limited in conjunction with Bridgezone to carry out the underwater inspection of the dam structures.
Tentena said inspection works will cost 160,000 pounds (about sh640m). He added that such inspection was last done in 1990 by the Uganda Electricity Board that was in charge of the power plant then.
"Eskom operates and maintains both Nalubaale and Kiira power stations that produce 60% of Uganda's electricity," Tentena said.
By DONALD KIIRYA The New Vision Newspaper 2-April-2012