AUTO condemns plans to construct a hydro dam at Murchison Falls

The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) has condemned the idea to construct a hydro power dam. This was announced at a meeting held by AUTO officials during a visit to Murchison Falls National Park yesterday.

According to AUTO, the construction of the dam would only further undermine the efforts by tour operators and other tourism stakeholders to market the country and attract visitors to Uganda.

In June 2019, Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA) on June 7, 2019 run a notice in The New Vision in which they announced the intended application for a license from Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited who intend to construct a hydro power dam near the Murchison Falls in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts.

Murchison Waterfalls from the top all the way to the delta at its confluence with Lake Albert, is a Ramsar site, designated to be of international importance under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands; an intergovernmental environmental treaty established in 1971 by UNESCO, which Uganda is also signatory to.

The direct contribution of tourism in Uganda is measured in form of GDP contribution of 10% as well as the direct employment mainly for women and youth in hotels, tour companies, travel agencies, airlines and other passenger transportation services. It is also measured indirectly in terms of the different stakeholders who indirectly benefit from according to their positions along its varied value chain.

According to the statistical bulletin of the Ministry of Tourism Wildlife and Antiquities, Murchison Falls National Park received an increase of 10% over a period of 12 months, commanding up to 31.4% of all Uganda’s park visitations and leading all the 10 national parks in visitor numbers.

AUTO officials say that the construction of a hydro dam in Murchison Falls will lead losses to Ugandan tourism business owners (tour operators, lodge owners and others) and many Ugandans who both directly and indirectly depend on the Murchison Falls for employment and their livelihood.

They added that it will deprive Ugandans today and in the future of the much needed government revenue, GDP contribution, job creation, and all other benefits that accrue from Sustainable Tourism Development.

They have requested President Museveni to publicly pronounce an immediate termination to this damaging project and government to launch a nationwide sensitisation on the importance of conservation to the future of Uganda.

AUTO also requested government to dedicate more finances towards the conservation, sustainable development and promotion of the country’s varied tourist attractions.

Source: AUTO