KAMPALA – The chairman of Umeme board directors, Mr Patrick Bitature, has urged the government to carefully evaluate its plan to build a dam at Murchison Falls.
Speaking to journalists in Kampala on Thursday, December 12, 2019, Mr Butature said whereas the country needs hydropower, it cannot be at the expense of conservation of nature.
“I encourage the government to think carefully about what they are doing and not to rush in because we need power. I am a champion of tourism and I prefer that we promote Tourism in the long run, and this Murchison Falls is such a unique place,” he said.
Mr Bitature adds to the voices of many environmentalists, including Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, who have condemned the government’s plan to resurrect plans to build a dam at the falls.
When the plan was revealed in August, the government denied it but last month, it emerged that Cabinet ha okayed a feasibility study to be done on the possibility of building a 360MW power plant at the Iconic Murchison Falls.
Mr Bitature insisted that while the government needs to plan ahead for its power sources to deal with the fast-growing population, Murchison should not be among its considerations.
Nevertheless, he urged the public to allow the government to do its technical study.
“Let us leave the space open for the government to do feasibility studies, rather than be caught off-guard by sentimental reasons.”
Murchison Falls, locally referred to as Kabalega Falls, is major tourism attraction. Tourism raked in $1.2b (Shs4.5 trillion) in 2018, yet the tourism sector was allocated a budget of Shs193 billion in the financial year ending, and Shs175 billion in the new financial year starting next month. Government plans to develop six hydropower sites, including the Murchison Falls, which has a capacity of 650 MW.
Others listed are Ayago (840 MW), Oriang (392 MW), Kiba (300 MW), Uhuru (300 MW), and Nshungyeezi (35 MW).