Rukarara changing lives of local community

People in remote villages around Rukarara hydro power plant, in Nyamagabe District, are happy they can light their homes at night using electricity, but they yearn for more. They say they want more power that will enable them to engage in commercial activities that will substantially uplift their welfare.
A section of the Rukarara Hydro power plant in Nyamagabe District. Lawmakers have paid a visit to the controversial project. The New Times / J. Mbanda.
A section of the Rukarara Hydro power plant in Nyamagabe District. Lawmakers have paid a visit to the controversial project. The New Times / J. Mbanda.

People in remote villages around Rukarara hydro power plant, in Nyamagabe District, are happy they can light their homes at night using electricity, but they yearn for more.

They say they want more power that will enable them to engage in commercial activities that will substantially uplift their welfare.

Residents of Munazi Village, in Bugarama Cell, in Kibirizi Sector, Thursday told The New Times they would wish to set up wielding workshops, flour mills, and other small scale but lucrative projects.

Edouard Byiringiro, a casual labourer, said: “The power is really not enough, people can only get light, watch television, shave hair and listen to the radio, but that is not enough. We want to see real and fast development, especially to be able to bring things like sewing and wielding machines.”

Nonetheless, Georgina Niyitanga, a mother of four, whose small hut is among the few connected, told The New Times the power is less expensive than the kerosene her family previously used to light a lamp that produced unwanted smoke and soot.

Her household was connected to electricity about three months ago, she says.

Before then, her husband bought dry batteries for his radio and a Rwf 90 beaker of paraffin for their lamp that lasted only three days.

“I only use it [power] for lighting and listening to the radio. We can’t use it for any other purpose.” Niyitanga said:

“The way I see it, this electricity is cheaper than the paraffin we used to buy almost every day, but the problem is that we can’t use it to mill sorghum,” she said, without elaborating how much they pay for the electricity.

Others in the village are also buoyant about their latest acquisition.

According to Claude Hagirimana, electricity brought television to the remote village.

After work, people gather at the only two shops in the village centre where “we go to watch the news and all the good things about our country, on television.”

Hagirimana says the little they have is appreciated, stressing that it especially solved the issue of recharging their mobile telephones.

Yohana Wihanganye, a Primary Five pupil at the nearby Uwinkingi Primary School, was even more ecstatic while speaking about his electricity experience.

“Now I can watch television, and also at night I read my books and it is really helpful. Before we got electricity, we used to study by the lamps and it was difficult,” Wihanganye said.

The residents also said they are optimistic that the primary school, church and sector headquarters will soon get connected.

Probe underway

Meanwhile, a parliamentary probe team investigating alleged anomalies on how the project was previously handled also visited the site on Thursday.

MP Evode Kalima, the head of the team, told The New Times that he could not divulge any of their findings until a final report is ready.

“We are not yet finished here. We came looking for specific things and if we so wish, we can come back for more, any time,” Kalima said after his team’s initial official visit of the plant.

Lawmakers were concerned that the electricity does not go into the national grid, but on Thursday, they were shown installations that connect the plant to the national network.

Specifics about the power plant

The plant has three power generating units.

When The New Times visited on Thursday, the three machines were generating 2,945kw, 3,013kw and 3,007kw of power, respectively.

During its construction, the capacity of the water in the reservoir was designed to produce a daily maximum capacity of six hours of power.

On Wednesday, a day before The New Times visited the plant, it was reported that it had produced 171 MW/hr, as there was a lot of water on that day.

The plant usually produces an average daily maximum of 216MW/hr.

Ends

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