Murchison falls give-away is rude, unacceptable – Bunyoro

Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom has added its weight on efforts to save Murchison falls from being given away to South African investors to construct a hydro-power dam.

Two weeks ago, cabinet approved a proposal for feasibility studies to be conducted for a a proposed hydropower project at Murchison falls, drawing criticism from conservationists and activists within the tourism sector who argue that a power dam at the falls will kill Murchison Falls National Park’s tourism potential.

Because of the falls that are said to be the world’s fastest and powerful water fall, Murchison Falls National Park attracts the highest number of tourists as compared to other game parks in the country.

Plans to construct a hydropower dam at the falls came to light early this year when the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) published a notice in newspapers indicating that it had received an application from a South African company, Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited for the construction of a power dam in Murchison Falls.

“ERA has under section 29 of the Electricity Act 1999 received a notice of intended application of a license from Bonang Power and Energy(Pty) Limited for the generation and sale of electricity from a hydropower plant proposed to be established near Murchison Falls in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts,” read the notice published in the government owned New Vision.

Being that the falls are of great cultural importance to both Bunyoro and Acholi, Bunyoro Kitara kingdom has joined the opposition against the construction of a power dam with the kingdom’s Prime Minister, Andrew Byakutaga, saying that the kingdom will not at any point allow government to establish a power dam on Murchison falls.

Tourists enjoying a boat ride in Murchison Falls National Park.

Byakutaga says Murchison falls is a strong heritage site for Bunyoro Kitrara kingdom, adding that any development aimed at its destruction will not be tolerated since the falls are a strong tourism attraction site in the kingdom.

According to Byakutaga, the Kingdom has already written to the ERA warning the agency against making any attempts to establish a power dam on Murchison falls.

Apollo Rwamparo, the kingdom’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Antiquities said the move “is rude and unacceptable for government to give away Murchison falls for the construction of a power station yet it is a bio-cultural site.”

He wants government through the Energy ministry to cancel any engagements with Bonang or any other company regarding the feasibility study. Rwamparo says activities that are harmful to biodiversity such as dams in protected areas should be stopped and condemned in the strongest terms.

He says tourism is one of the most sustainable industries, which feed the country’s economy, even with very little government effort, interest and investment.

The Tourism sector alone earned the country Shs 1.6 billion in the 2018/2019 financial year and Murchison falls remains one of the most iconic tourist attractions in Uganda.