Cabinet rejects plan to build  dam at Murchison Falls

Wednesday August 28 2019

Tourists visit Murchison Falls.

Tourists visit Murchison Falls. File photo 

By RISDEL KASASIRA

KAMPALA- Conservationists and players in the tourism and sector are celebrating a decision by Cabinet, to reject a proposal by Bonang Power Energy Limited, to construct a power dam near Murchison Falls in Kiryandongo District.

Mr Ofwono Opondo, the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, told Daily Monitor on Wednesday that two weeks ago, Cabinet ministers unanimously agreed that the splendid  falls be reserved because of “environmental and tourism concerns.”

In June, the proposal stimulated outrage especially on mainstream and social media platforms.

Over 4,900 people signed an online petition to protest a request by Bonang Power Energy Limited, a South African energy firm, to build the dam at the falls.

According to the Electricity Regulatory Authority, the company planned to build new hydropower dams at Ayago, Uhuru, Kiba and Murchison Falls, to generate 2,550 megawatts of electricity.

“Cabinet rejected the proposed construction of an electricity dam on Uhuru Falls near Murchison Falls over environmental and tourism concerns. The Minister [of Energy] has been asked to carry out a study [for such a project] at a different site,”   Mr Opondo said.

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Mr Bashir Hangi, the Spokesperson of Uganda Wildlife Authority, said they appreciate the decision and described it as a gift to the wildlife conservation and tourism sectors.

“It’s a demonstration that government values conservation and the promotion of tourism as a transformational force for Uganda’s economic development,” he said.

In January, the Tourism ministry announced that Uganda received 1,402,409 tourists in 2017 which number increased to 2,000,000 in 2018.

The ministry estimate the number of tourists visiting Uganda to rise to 3,000,000, which will bring in over $1.5 billion, which is 4.3 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

 It was feared that a dam at the falls would cause flooding in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which would have devastating effects on animals and birds in the park.

rkasasira@ug.nationmedia.com

 

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