Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese firm contracted to construct the hydro-power dam has employed about 4,000 staff. Kiryandongo Resident District Commissioner, Lio Ngompek, disclosed that about 1,000 of them are Chinese nationals, majority of who entered the country illegally.
Lio Ngompek, the Kiryandongo Resident District Commissioner told URN that the operation on Friday afternoon follows a tip off to the Directorate of Immigration and Registration of Persons.
Ngompek explains that when the team entered the site under the cover as tourists, they found more than 100 Chinese nationals working but were only able to round up 36 of them. He said on realising, the majority fled while others who were at the camp ran into the tunnel.
Sinohydro Corporation Limited, a Chinese firm contracted to construct the hydro-power dam has employed about 4,000 staff. Ngompek disclosed that about 1,000 of them are Chinese nationals, majority of who entered the country illegally.
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According to immigration laws, illegal immigrants are fined for unlawful entry into the country on conviction and thereafter, deported at their own expense.
The immigration department collects at least 52 billion shillings for such services annually.
Emmanuel Decox Nyalo, the Human Resource Officer of Sinohydro Corporation Limited confirmed the arrest. He however says the victims have valid passports.
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He blames the immigration officials for laxity that allows illegal entry in the country.
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Nyalo however says the arrest does not have much effect on the construction work at the site.
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Karuma dam project once completed, will generate about 600 Megawatts. The project is expected to cost close to 1.7 billion US Dollars, about 3.5 trillion shillings, with Exim Bank of China financing 85 percent and the government of Uganda 15 percent.
According the agreement signed with government, the project will be complete by December 2018.
However, after just three years of construction, many walls at the dam construction area have developed cracks. Members of Parliament have argued that the cracks could threaten the future and longevity of the dam.
Only one in ten Ugandans have electricity in their homesteads despite the country generating and exporting some of its hydropower to neighbouring countries. Part of the reasons advanced for this are high power tariffs and the hope is once dams like Karuma are completed, the tariff on electricity will be affordable to all Ugandans.