The Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) has said it would be a silly decision by the government to construct a dam at the Murchison Falls in Kiryandongo district.
Addressing a news conference on Tuesday at Hotel Africana, AUTO chairperson, Everest Kayondo said the mere thinking of developing a dam at falls is an abomination that the government should not dare do.
“Tourism accounts for 10% of the country’s GDP but also 24% of the foreign exchange earned by the country and making it the biggest foreign exchange earner. By thinking of destroying one of the biggest tourist attractions in the country, is a sin,” Kayondo said.
Of the 37.5 trillion shillings for the entire Ugandan budget, the government last year injected shs.32 billion which was equivalent to 0.1% of the budget.
However, according to tour operators’ chairperson, it is only embarrassing that despite injecting peanuts in the sector, it fetched a whopping sum of earnings to the government but it is right now trying to stifle the sector by destroying some of the tourist attractions.
“Murchison falls national park is one of the 10 national parks that Uganda has and a third of the tourists to Uganda last year visited Murchison falls not because of the wildlife but due to the falls which present a rare experience. It would be an abomination destroying such an attraction.”
The Murchison falls are found on the 1000metres wide Nile River which is the longest in the world but at the falls’ site, the river folds from 1000metres to form a narrow gorge of only 7metres (23 ft) wide before plunging 43 meters (141 ft).
The tour operators say the rare spectacular scene located on the longest river in the world and are fetching a lot of money for both government and locals cannot just be done away with to pave way for construction of a dam.
“To kill nature is equivalent to terrorism that the government wants to do. By constructing a dam at Murchison falls, the government is digging a big grave that no one can jump out of, ”said AUTO board member, Brian Mugume.
“You(government) have already thought of it and that is lame enough to force you to abandon the move.”
The Association of Uganda Tour Operators chairperson said they have written a number of petitions to various government officials including President Museveni, the Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Parliamentary committee on tourism and other government officials in protest against the move.
“What we are doing is like a sick person who tries all medicine they are directed to before getting the best to cure them. Until the project is abandoned, we shall not stop making noise over the project,” Kayondo said.
He revealed that if in two weeks time, they don’t receive a formal communication in writing from the government promising to abandon the project, they will hold protests over the proposed dam along the Murchison falls.
However, according to the Electricity Regulatory Authority, they have not issued a permit but rather received an application to conduct feasibility studies for the construction of the dam.
“This application is going to be viewed and its merit. Those logging protestations should do it officially to ERA,” Julius Wandera, the Communication manager for ERA says.
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