P & I Power in African Adventure

Uganda 2012September 2012

The UK Medical Research Council has a research unit based in Uganda which carries out clinical trials and research into HIV and AIDS. The main MRC Station is at Entebbe where there are three principle MRC buildings (labs and offices) plus various out buildings including generator houses, vehicle workshop, chemical and other stores plus an IT disaster recovery room and staff housing. All are located on or adjacent to the same campus in Entebbe whilst in the other stations in Masaka and Kyamlibuwa (a rural locale) a similar arrangement holds. There is one other clinic in the capital, Kampala.

There had been a number of recent incidents of small fires at MRC premises caused by electrical faults, due mostly to the unstable and intermittent mains power supply but also due to aged and obsolete equipment such as air conditioners. The site relies heavily on the use of inverters for the offices and homes and these had often short circuited in the past and the fire hazards around the inverters needed to be reviewed in detail with recommendations as to the safest methods of use. Voltage was unstable from the main supply and this caused plugs in the sockets to melt and even set on fire. The situation therefore could not be tolerated and was extremely dangerous to both equipment and
lives.

After Jon Terzza, New Contracts Manager, won the bid P & I’s Andy Taylor and Gary Chrismas travelled to Uganda in order to carry out inspections and visit each of the MRC sites and housing/guesthouses and review the electrical equipment present in each MRC building on site.

They discussed the common power supply problems with the onsite organisations in Uganda and noted the condition of the transformers and power cables at the site.

They inspected all generators, control panels, switch gear, inverter banks, voltage stabilisers, earthings, power distribution boards, circuit breakers and stand by systems and other electrical equipment, measuring against European safety standards.

Details of the condition of the electrical services by the survey and the main weaknesses leading to the power problems at the MRC sites, especially serious health and safety risks, were disclosed.

The results of any tests which were undertaken, including measurements of voltages, power outages and amperages against UK standards were also documented.

The visit was a resounding success. Gary and Andy will provide recommendations for improvements both for business continuity and health and safety with estimated costs at a future date.

We thank the MRC for the opportunity and look forward to a continued co-operation with our Ugandan counterparts in creating an effective and safe electrical environment.

Finally, we would like to say a big well done to our African Adventurers Andy and Gary. This really does literally put P & I Generators on the map.