KAMPALA – Hon Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine has on June 10, wondered why government has to sell off all public space to investors in guise of development.
This follows a release from Electricity Regulatory Authority notifying the public about government plans to sell part of Murchison Falls National Park to a South African Energy company.
Bonang Power and Energy LTD intend to establish a hydro-power plant in areas of Kiryandogo and Nwoya near the falls.
Bobi Wine, who is on a music tour in Europe, noted that growing up “we had so many public spaces across Uganda, until President
Museveni and his regime sold them off, and closed the public out of the few remaining ones.”
“You can’t help but wonder what goes on in the minds of our leaders!” he exclaimed.
The Kyadondo East MP noted that only a few days back, news came out that Museveni had directed the giveaway of forestry land in Bugolobi, “for some investment,” he says.
“Now Murchison Falls is being given out to an investor apparently to generate electricity,” he exclaimed.
The Legislator described Murchison falls as one of the most beautiful places on earth.
He added that “before long, it will be closed off to Ugandans, put under military siege and the rest will be history.”
Bobi Wine wondered if there is a government department in charge of spotting all our nation’s treasures and making sure they are plundered.
“They seem to be on a mission, a mad rash to deplete our entire nation’s wealth by those who govern us,” he added.
He added that public properties have all been taken in the name of development, only to benefit a few well-connected people as the ordinary Ugandan languishes in lack.
On a sad note, he said Ugandan leaders are always on the next plane visiting developed countries, but they never borrow a leaf of development.
“You can’t understand if it is because of hatred for their country or unprecedented selfishness that they see these things, admire them but do the exact opposite in their own country!” he added.
MP Kyagulanyi highlighted that when he saw the masses of water and swamps surrounding Amsterdam, he remembered, “When Minister Kahinda Otafiire wondered what a swamp was doing in town”.
He said this justifies the reckless give away of prime public property in Uganda.
Bobi Wine, while in the Netherlands praised the general level of organization in that country which he says is breathtaking.
“While on our Europe tour, we took off time to visit parts of the Netherlands. You will be amazed at the big chunks of land reserved for public parks, recreational grounds, very large highways and railways, forests, etc.”
He added that these places are all accessible to the citizens of this country.
Kyagulanyi compared Netherland with Uganda saying, “What if we swapped leaders with the Netherlands, and put the leaders here in charge of Uganda while putting our leaders in charge of the Netherlands?”
He concluded that Netherlands would run down in a very short time, and “and it would probably take 10 years for Uganda to be where Netherlands is, or at least very close.”
If Uganda was Netherlands, Bobi Wine says, government officials would have long taken them over and set up private residences, shopping malls, petrol stations and other private installations.
“It is very annoying to think about these things,” he said.
He also urged Ugandans to keep on being annoyed and lamenting. “We must realize that politics is too important a matter to be left to politicians,” he said.
Murchison Falls National Park crisis
Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), in a notice dated June 7, acknowledged receipt of notice of intended application for a license from Bonang Power and Energy (PTY) Ltd.
The South African based company intends to establish a hydropower plant in areas of Kiryandogo and Nwoya near the falls.
The company plans on generating and selling electricity.
ERA noted that the energy firm intends to undertake detailed feasibility studies and other activities which will lead to the development of the power project.
“The generated power will be sold to the Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited and fed into the National Grid,” the ERA notice read.
The regulator added that the project is located within the coordinates 2•16’42.6″N, 31•41’08.8″E which is the same location of waterfalls.
“The proposed installed capacity of the project is 360MW,” ERA noted.
In the same notice, the Authority has given 30 days to directly affected parties to make comments and lodge objections (if any) in respect to the notice.
“Directly affected parties and affected parties and affected public agencies are invited to submit their comments in respect to the application or notice in writing to the ERA address,” the authority noted.
However, this license application has attracted immediate outcry from the tourism sector and conservationists with players raising a red flag over the obvious negative impact of such a project.
Save Murchison Falls Petition
Ugandans on June 9 started an online “Save Murchison Falls National Park” petition to President Museveni and concerned authorities over the proposed hydropower dam construction in the Murchison Falls National Park area.
The petitioners led by the Operations Officer Nungi Safaris Uganda Amos Murungi are soliciting for 5,000 signatures and by June 10 afternoon, the activists already had over 3,900 signatures and by looking at the site, more are still pouring in.
The campaign encourages people to share their pictures online while at Murchison falls as a way of exhibiting the beauty of the Murchison Falls.
Mr. Murungi says tourism is his life. “I love my country Uganda, I think it’s very beautiful and I have great belief in its natural richness.”
He explained how unthinkable it is for government to permit such proposal which will definitely lead to the destruction of the thunderous falls.
“We as Environmentalists and Tourism lovers have decided to use all our resources and power to save this national park from destructions,” he said.
Murchison Falls was first gazetted as a game reserve in 1926.
Murchison Falls National Park is Uganda’s largest and oldest conservation area, hosting 76 species of mammals and 451 birds.
This is the largest National Park in Uganda – covering 3,480 square km and one of the most spectacular in Africa.