Isimba dam to swallow rafting site

Monday June 29 2015

Ongoing construction work at Isimba Hydropower

Ongoing construction work at Isimba Hydropower Dam. PHOTO by PAUL TAJUBA 



The Isimba Hydro power project and its 132KV transmission line will destroy 18km of space used for whitewater rafting on River Nile, MPs heard last Friday.

Rafting is a popular sport on River Nile and attracts many tourists due to massive frothy waves colliding at different angles.

The 183mw dam is under construction in Kayunga District by China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) at a tune of $500 million (about Shs1.3 trillion). The dam, 40kms downstream, from the newly built Bujagali Hydropower Dam, is being funded by the Chinese Export and Import Bank (Ex-Im).

Ms Caroline Aguti Mugisha, an official from the ministry of Energy, said it was unfortunate that the rafting site will be lost.

“Eighteen kilometres of the rafting stretch will be lost, but 18 km will be left intact,” Ms Aguti told MPs on the Parliamentary National Resources committee and officials from the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) who were inspecting the progress of the dam construction.

Ms Aguti said rafting sections that will still be used stretch between Bujagali and Kalagala falls, Point Break, Overtime, Retrospect, Bubugo/Super hole, Itanda rapid, and Vengeance.

Other affected areas
The dam will also cause flooding of up to five rapids (Weleba, Malalu, Nile Special, Kulu Shaker, and Hair of the Dog).

“Two of the rapids lost – Weleba and Malalu are of less rafting value or attraction, and not usually used being downstream of the outtake point at Kisozi,” Ms Aguti said adding, “the lake that will be created will provide alternative tourism activities and opportunities such as boat rides and sport fishing.”

Mr Dennis Ntege, one of the people who do water rafting business on the river, asked Energy officials to work with the affected people so that the rafting and the dam co-exist in harmony.

Dr Tom Okurut, the Nema executive director, said before they approved the construction, many considerations were made to minimise its impact on environment and in conformity with the Indemnity Agreement for Bujagali IPP.
The deal restricts any developments on the offset area to the environs of Kalagala Falls.doors

Mr Zhao Xiao Chao, one of the top project managers, said they were training young Ugandan engineers to take over the management of the dam after its completion. At the commencement of the project, ministry of energy officials said 1,500 permanent and 3,800 casual job opportunities were expected to be created during the 34-month period. Mr Chao said 70 jobs are filled by Ugandans.