Petition Over Murchison Falls Hydro Power Project: Following the disappearance of the Nile falls and Owen falls to hydro power dam construction, Ugandans and public sector have taken it upon themselves to petition and block the plans of constructing a hydro power plant (dam) on Murchison falls.
Murchison falls was named by the explorer Sir Samuel Baker after the geologist Roderick Murchison who was the president of Royal geographical society. Murchison falls is situated between Lake Kyoga and Lake Albert on Victoria Nile tributary of river Nile in north western Uganda . Murchison falls is found in Murchison falls conservation area (Murchison falls national game park) which is the largest national park in Uganda. It covers approximately 3,893 square kilometers (1,503 sq. mi) with various tourist attractions like animals for example African buffalo, lions, African bush elephants, Ugandan kob and Rothschild giraffe, Nile Albert delta, Victoria Nile and the Murchison falls itself.
Tourism was the highest foreign exchange earner in Uganda last year collecting ($1.37billion) and 1.4 million tourists entered Uganda. Murchison falls National Park is the most visited park in Uganda by tourist in 2018 with 1/3 of the total tourist who visited Uganda.
On Sunday 08th June, 2019 the Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) through its Facebook page, posted seeking for public view on the feasibility study of the Murchison falls by a South African firm in the names BONANG POWER LIMITED which is interested in constructing a HYDRO power dam. This news was received with mixed reactions with many questions and criticizing the government for such outrageous move with is a threat to Uganda’s tourism potential and economy.
As per electricity regulatory authority (ERA) post, it revealed coordinates between longitude 2°16’426”N° and latitude 31°41’08.08”E where the construction is to take place in Kiryandongo and Mwoya districts on Murchison falls on Victoria Nile a tributary of River Nile.
BONANG POWER LIMITED is a South African firm founded in 2014 by South African entrepreneur Ernest moloi and specializes in renewable energy projects in Africa. According the notice published by Electricity Regulatory Authority, bonang applied for a feasibility study on a 360 megawatt hydro power project on Murchison falls and through its web site bonang power limited states that Uganda seeks to build a new hydro power project s at ayago, uhuru, kiba and Murchison falls which will generate 25500 megawatts electricity, the generated power will be sold to the Uganda transmission company which will distribute it for economic growth.
This news was not received with happiness as many individuals and organisations took to social media and press to express their anger and outrage towards the government. Amos murungi a self-proclaimed environmentalist and an operations officer at nungi safaris Uganda started a partition online targeting over 2500 people to stop the plans of hydro power project at Murchison. Murungi stated “the delta area which forms part of Murchison falls national park is the best place to see the rare shoe bill is sighted. A boat cruise to the delta area where the shoe bill is sighted offer great opportunity to see game as hippos, crocodiles, lots of bird species and among others”
On Tuesday, private tour operators under their body Association of Tour Operators in Uganda (AUTO) also addressed a press conference in Kampala towards their quest to block the hydro power plans. The chairman of AUTO Evarist Kayondo stated “this is a big blow to tourism industry which the biggest foreign exchange earner for Uganda, tourism accounts 10% of Uganda’s GDP and 24%of the foreign inflow”. The waterfall offers incomparable sights and experiences which is why it should be preserved.
“The private sector is demanding that government formally issues a letter stating that it has abandoned the hydro project, failure to do so in the next weeks the sector will declare an industrial action” kayondo warned
Amos Wekesa the executive director of great safaris also took part in the struggle through his social media handles encouraging Ugandans to protest the destruction of Murchison falls by signing a petition under the hashtag #savemurchsionfalls, he went on and said “those of you who have been there (Murchison falls) know falls are a national asset not Wekesa’s or any tour operator. The government earns a lot of revenue and if you have not been there please go and you don’t have to use my company”.
Also a travel blogger, Charlotte Beauvoisin of diary of a MZUNGU said the “controversy is a testament to how most officials in government are misguided on the potential of tourism and how natural sceneries, wildlife and the natural environment are so critical to tourism.” She added “places get talked about and you think its hype I have been to Murchison falls and a thought of destroying the falls I would be disappointed. I go there and you can feel the power of water under your feet, it’s like a multi-sensory experience”
Other Ugandans termed the Murchison falls hydro power project plans as total madness, a shocking thing and murder as stated by Brian mugume aboard member of AUTO who equated the hydro am plan to terrorism