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Military battles to remove floating island along Nile

Clogged turbine at hydroelectric power station in Jinja

Military battles to remove floating island along Nile

The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) Engineering brigade, acting on the orders of Chief of Defense Forces, General David Muhoozi, is working to remove a floating island. This island clogged a turbine at the hydroelectric power station in Jinja, near the Source of the Nile.

From the proverbial swords to plowshares, the forces have put aside their guns and are busy and have been deployed on new battlefronts. They are spraying locusts that have been ravaging the northeast of the country. They are enforcing the lockdown directive by the President ordering citizens to stay home following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The blockage caused a huge roughly 4-acre, 4-meter deep floating island also known as Sudds on Lake Victoria that triggered a nationwide blackout in Uganda. The blockage clogged a turbine in a hydroelectric power station, and the power went down. “The lake is reclaiming its own after encroachment on its shores,” said Engineer Besigye Bekunda, head of the forces engineering brigade.

The outage also caused a broadcast by Uganda President Yoweri Museveni on the COVID-19 crisis to be delayed by an hour. Commenting on the nationwide blackout on Tuesday afternoon, the Chief Executive Officer of the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Ziria Tibalwa, said the generation agencies are exhausting the reserved power sources to ensure that there is a constant power supply to the whole country.

Tibalwa said that Uganda is currently relying on 183 megawatts from Isimba dam, 30 megawatts from 3 solar plants, 52 megawatts from the Namanve-based thermal power plant, and 120 megawatts from 2 mini-hydro plants in different parts of the country.

The army has been kept busy fending off fishermen eager to harvest crops including yams and bananas that were growing on the island. The  PDF is bracing itself for a much larger Sudd located upstream.

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