Save Murchison Falls: A surge over a swelling issue about the Murchison falls and the proposed power dam swipes through Uganda as the tour operators of the private sector issues a two weeks ultimatum for the government to come out public and denounce the damn dam project. On 11th June 2019 at 10:30am, the association of Uganda tour operators sat at a press conference to debate about the issue that was entitled as, “Save Murchison falls”. The members addressed the issue at hand, save Murchison falls, to a news conference in Kampala. In one accord, all the tour operators under their association, AUTO, criticized the plan of converting Murchison falls dam into a power station to generate about 360 megawatts of power. The tour operators argued that the deal would result into a big blow to the tourism sector, yet tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner for Uganda’s economy.
Despite the excuse given by the government of Uganda about the allegations concerning the issue of Murchison falls, the members of the association of the Uganda tour operators (AUTO) downplayed the excuse of the government that the construction of the dam in Murchison falls national park is not a done deal. The AUTO members however in this agreement argued that the mere fact that such a project can be executed, is outrageous enough.
The origin of the issue
On the 7th June this year, the electricity regulatory authority of Uganda, (ERA), published a note through the press, recognizing the receipt of a notice regarding an intended application for a license from a company well known now as bonang power energy limited, and a South African company. The company is believed to have intentions in the generation of hydroelectricity power and also sale, from the power plant planned for the future to be established near Murchison falls in Kiryandongo and Nyonya districts in north western Uganda.
However, the real location of the proposed power plant was revealed to be the same coordinates, of the great natural resource in one of the national parks in Uganda i.e. Murchison waterfalls. This is where the insight on the Murchison falls issue sprung from. The south African power company by the name of boning, continues to extend the plan of undertaking the feasibility study in details and other actions leading to the development of the above “unwanted” power project.
Bonang power and energy limited in the agreement, explains that the generated power will be sold to the Uganda electricity transmission company limited, “then will be fed to all the national grid”, the electricity regulatory authority of Uganda added in desire of calming down of the swelling wave on several tourism media platforms.
Despite all the sugar and vanilla coatings put on the “save murchison falls” issue, the government still continues to face an adverse reaction from the tourism sector to the controversial plan of constructing the a power plant at murchison waterfalls in murchison falls national park. Many tour operators had quite coarse message to tell to the government through the press conference held on June 11th.
The chairman of the association of Uganda tour operators, AUTO, in his words told the reporters that, “tourism is one of the big sectors in Uganda. It accounts for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, GDP, and 24% of the foreign exchange inflow, meaning it is the single biggest foreign exchange earner of Uganda.” Evarist kayondo the chairperson of AUTO continued and told the audience of different reporters that tourism is a substantive sector which shouldn’t be swept through irrational decisions by the government. He continued and said that the waterfalls offer the visitors an incomparable sight and experience, and that is the reason as to why all efforts are needed to preserve Murchison falls for the future.
Murchison falls National Park is among the ten major national parks, and according to statistics, it was the most visited by tourists in 2018. This is so not just because of the wildlife; wildlife can be found in any other national park in the country of Africa, but majorly due to the Murchison falls. At Murchison falls is where the longest river in the world, Nile River, goes through a narrow gorge of 7m wide, the sight of this falls is a memorable.
After a lot of lashes from the public about Murchison falls issue, the electricity regulatory authority of Uganda, ERA, released a notice to clear the environment that no license has been given yet for the construction of a hydro power dam at the Murchison waterfalls. “we wish to clarify to our stakeholders about this notice, ERA has no issued a license for the establishment of power plant at Murchison falls but an application for a permit to conduct feasibility studies for a proposed plant near the falls” ERA addressed the public one of its social media platforms on Sunday.
Despite, the tour operators in Uganda and other tourism players said that this was a lame excuse and does not suffice. “Mere thinking about the dam alone is just bad enough. The fact that they even needed someone to carryout feasibility studies is disastrous and whoever conceived it owes it to Ugandans to resign” kayondo said on Tuesday.
He continued and said that, all what is wanted by the tour operators from the government is the plan to be stopped and denounced in public. He went ahead in fury and vowed that the noise of dissatisfaction from the public and the tourism well-wishers is not going to cease, plus other actions. “In Uganda things start as a rumors and develop, before you know it, the waterfalls of Murchison will be gone.” Kayondo asserted his issues about the Murchison falls query.
The tour operators gave living examples of the Owen falls and bujagali which have been already lost to electricity generation, which even did not benefit the nation at all, and Murchison fall is going to be a big dare this time. A lot of other concerned tourism players are continuing to come up in protest of the construction of a power dam at Murchison falls.
One of the profound bloggers about Uganda’s tourism, diary of the muzungu, said that the controversy is a testament to how most officials in the government are misguides on the potential of tourism and how natural sceneries, wildlife and natural environment, are so critical to that. Another board member of auto weighed the action by the government to give away Murchison falls to the investors, as terrorism and treason.
Other countries are struggling to build artificial tourist attractions, Uganda is busy thinking of killing one by one, even the few that are left in the country, said furious board members of the association of Uganda tour operators to the press on Tuesday. Other auto members are still fighting and promoting the “save murchison fall” campaign all through the country. And other countries and conservationists have started joining in into the campaign; the campaign is furious and straight aiming to triumph.