A move to construct a dam along the Murchison Falls has not augured well with tourism enthusiasts, the Nile Post has learnt.
The Electricity Regulatory Authority(ERA) last week through the government newspaper announced it had received a notice of intended application for a licence from two companies intending to construct a dam along the falls.
“ERA has under section 29 of the Electricity Act 1999 received a notice of intended application of a licence from Bonang Power and Energy(Pty) Limited for the generation and sale of electricity from a hydro power plant proposed to be established near Murchison falls in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts,” the announcement by ERA read in part.
According to the announcement, the two companies are set to do feasibility studies and other activities leading to the development of the hydro power project along the Murchison Falls.
ERA has subsequently asked any parties affected directly or indirectly by the move to present their comments to them.
The move has however received a backlash from a number of tourism enthusiasts who says it bad for the tourism industry in Uganda.
In a post on her official facebook page, Uganda Tourism Board, Chief Executive Officer Lily Ajarova described the move as being an act of madness to destroy an iconic feature.
“Who in their right mind would want the destruction of Murchison Falls, an iconic feature that is spectacular and none like it elsewhere,”Ajarova wondered.
The Uganda Tourism Board boss explained that the falls are a major attraction to tourists visiting the Murchison Falls National Park where they experience; a boat trip to the bottom of the falls, a hike from the bottom to the top of the falls, the top of the falls most rewarding views.
“The ecosystem of Murchison Falls National park has both endemic and endangered species that if destroyed will not only affect the nation but the global community with species extinction, climatic change, among others. There are options for the required development. The Murchison Falls must not be destroyed.”
Amos Wekesa, another tourism enthusiast did not have kind word to the move that he described as utter nonsense.
“We want to destroy every forest, every swamp, every water falls in our life time? Are we the last generation,”Wekesa wondered.
“What are we conserving for the next generation? Imagine if our ancestors had destroyed everything!!”
Jonathan Benaiah, the spokesperson for the Association of Ugandan Tours Operators said the move should be opposed by every sane Ugandan.
“Why are we so much after short quick gains at the compromise of natural resources which other nations can only wish they had? Crazy people to say the least,”Benaiah said.
“This country’s shallow-minded priorities; I still do not get. Maybe they should go ahead and compensate tourism investors rather than singing praising about the tourism sector being a leader in forex earnings; but only turning around to bring an axe to its neck thereafter.”
Murchison Falls presents a unique scenery along the Nile where the waters flow through a narrow gorge of only 7metres (23 ft) wide before plunging 43 metres (141 ft).
The beautiful scenery as the water swirls around the gorge is a beauty to watch.
A number of tourists to Uganda long to visit the falls which are described by many as the best tourist attraction in the country and ranks high on the continent.
Near the falls is Murchison Falls National Park, the country’s largest national park and all this could be endangered by the construction of the dam on the falls.
In 2018, Uganda earned $1.6 billion from tourism and it remains the biggest foreign earner to government.