KAMPALA – Cabinet has called for feasibility study to be conducted on whether a power dam can be built at Murchison Falls, four months after saying it was opposed to the project.
In August, the government was forced to deny that it was planning to build a dam at the falls known for promoting tourism following backlash from environmentalists
But on Wednesday, State Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, said Cabinet wants feasibility study done on before a conclusive decision can be made on the fate of the said dam.
“Cabinet is insisting that we should have a feasibility study over Murchison to tell whether we would have power on it or not,” Mr Kiwanda told a stakeholders meeting convened by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) in Kampala.
“I know Cabinet will come up with a paper and we shall base our argument on the findings of the environmental impact assessment and other science considerations that we shall consider before we take on such a project,” he added.
The revelation drew an immediate rebuttal from the director of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr Simon Nampindo, who accused the government of hypocritsy.
“For lack of faith, we know that once we okay the conduction of the feasibility study, the debate will shift. It will be a question of about how we mitigate the negative impacts that come with the development of the dam,” Dr Nampindo said.
He added: “This is because it is obvious that if you [do] a feasibility study, it is likely that it will have an economic justification as opposed to the scientific implication. If our government was really honest and the value the scientific information, we would not have any fears because we know that the scientific arguments are stronger. But at the moment we are faced with a political decision not really lack of science.”
In August, the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo, revealed that cabinet had rejected the move to build a dam on Murchison Falls.