By Darious Magara
Tembo Steel Mills, a steel rolling factory, is in the final stages of phasing out its Iganga plant over insufficient power supply, officials said.
Sources privy to the closure said the multi-billion plant, which was commissioned by President Yoweri Museveni in 2007 as the biggest investment project in Iganga district, is shifting part of its establishment to the Lugazi branch.
According to the source, Tembo has over the past three years been suffered acute power shortage, which has interfered with their production. The plant is located at the end of the 40km stretch from Jinja outside Iganga town.
The feeder supplying power to the plant is a 33KV line originating from the Jinja industrial substation. But because of the distance, the voltage drops to about 26KV, which is not sufficient for steel manufacturing.
“It is true we are relocating our main machinery to another factory at Lugazi to consolidate our production process,” said Anand Kedia, an official from Tembo Steels.
“We recently made investments worth billions at both our plants in Iganga and Lugazi. These initiatives call for a consolidate approach towards production and we cannot afford to stay off-line,” Kedia explained.
It was not possible to get a comment from Umeme, but sources said the power distributor could not immediately act due to budgetary constraints.
“But the permanent solution of constructing a 132KV substation falls in the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company’s docket,” the source said.
“We petitioned Umeme over this problem but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. The nature of our business calls for consistent quality power,” said Kedia.
“Initially, we were using only 16MW of power, but now we require about 40MW for us to realise our full potential with the recent innovations and expansions.”
Kedia, however, said the company will retain all their workers.