KAMPALA – The Democratic Party (DP) has described as shortsighted a plan by the government to build a power dam at Murchison Falls.
Cabinet has approved a feasibility plan to be conducted over whether a dam can be built at the falls, a move that has been condemned by environmentalists.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, DP President Norbert Mao also said the need for Uganda to increase its electricity supply must not come at the expense of Mother Nature.
“While we appreciate the urgent need for Uganda to increase its electricity supply, this must not come at the expense of Mother Nature! Citizens were disheartened to learn that the government has decided to build a power dam at the Murchison Falls,” he said.
“With mounting pressure, the government has now decided to change its focus to Uhuru Falls. These twin marvels of nature are already threatened by the dams constructed at Bujagali and Karuma. Building a dam will simply obliterate the falls which are a major tourist attraction,” he added.
Mr Mao also ridiculed the government for concentrating on generating power that Ugandans cannot afford or access.
Treasury Secretary Keith Muhakanizi last week said the energy sector is not run efficiently because Ugandans don’t consume all the power produced yet under the power purchase agreements the country is obliged to pay for all the electricity generated whether it is used or not.
“It is therefore imprudent for Uganda to invest in more dams yet the cost of unconsumed power which we have to pay imposes a heavy burden on the taxpayer. This is the reason why at 19 US Cents (700 Uganda shillings) per unit, electricity is too expensive for most Ugandans,” Mr Mao said.
In April this year the 183 MW Isimba Dam was commissioned. This now brings the installed electricity capacity to 1200MW. Next year, the 600MW Karuma dam will be operational. The Aswa dam near Gulu will also soon start operations. It is estimated that even at peak hours Ugandans can only consume 600MW.
“The situation is worsened by the lack of coordination among the key players in the energy sector. Dams are built but the power cannot be delivered to factories and homes due to lack of transmission networks,” the DP leader said.
Mr Mao said besides, many dam projects are hotbeds for grand corruption.
“It is these proceeds of graft that end up being used to corrupt the political processes. We, therefore, call upon parliament to halt these wasteful and unnecessary projects,” he said.