All human activities in and around River Aswa stretching through Pader and Gulu districts have been halted to pave way for testing of turbines at Aswa Hydroelectric power station.
The dam is expected to generate 109 megawatts for evacuation via the 132kV high voltage transmission line to a substation in Lira, where it will be sold to Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited – UETCL.
Construction of the Shillings 294 billion power station is partly funded by the African Development Bank (ADB). The dam belongs to Aswa River Power Energy – ARPE Uganda Limited.
Patricia Amito Leah, the ARPE Community Programs Officer told the community and local leaders along River Aswa in Paibona Sub County on Thursday evening that their technicians would start testing the dam’s 4×10.25 megawatts turbine electricity generating capacity on Friday evening.
She said that for safety and health purposes as well as avoidance of risk including deaths, injuries and damage that may relate to the testing of the turbines, they have advised the community to halt all activities near and inside Aswa River for a week’s period.
‘’When development comes like this it requires unity for everyone, so my request is let us unite and bring power. Let us unite and send information about this development in order to bring power.’’
The team has over the week been engaging and sensitizing members of the community along River Aswa to desist from all activities in and around the river including fishing, swimming, farming and hunting among others.
Richard Watmon, the former Paibona Sub County Chairperson, which lies within the affected area especially in Tugu 1, one of the cascades of the five power stations, where the giant dam is located, told URN that they have already asked the residents to vacate the areas as directed.
The power company is also expected to use electric bells to alert residents whenever they kick start the testing exercise. George Otto, the Paibona Sub County Gombolola Internal Security tasked the residents to heed the directives to avoid problems.
Joseph Okot Lungach, whose home and farm is located along River Unyama in Tugu parish, said that he and his family members are ready to adhere to the precautionary measure in order to stay out of danger. Aswa River is one of the major sources of income for neighbouring communities because of fishing and farming along with its belt and wild fruit gathering.