Breaking

MPs Query Govt Over UGX 100M Investment in Uhuru Falls Pre-feasibility Study

Mutyaba said that the authority was not aware that a pre-feasibility study had been done prior to Bonang’s application for the permit.
Bonang's estimated total cost for conducting a feasibility study for Uhuru Falls Dam

Audio 6

Legislators have questioned why government paid Shillings 110 million for a pre-feasibility study for the proposed power dam at Uhuru Falls near Murchison Falls along River Nile.         

  It came after the Natural Resources Committee received information indicating that government paid US$30,000 (approximately Shillings 110 million) for a pre-feasibility study at the proposed dam site.

The Committee also learnt that government paid for the pre-feasibility study that was completed before Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited applied for a permit for a feasibility study to develop a 360MW power dam on Uhuru Falls.    

In April last year, the South African firm applied for a permit from the Electricity Regulatory Authority-ERA to undertake a feasibility study and other related activities in respect of the proposed Uhuru Hydro power project in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts.     

 

However, ERA refused to grant Bonang Power and Energy the permit after receiving petitions from over 40 stakeholders including agencies such as Uganda Wildlife Authority, National Environment Management Authority-NEMA and Uganda Tourism Board –UTB opposing the application. 

The Electricity Act, 1999 provides that ERA shall process an application for a permit with due consideration of environmental, economic, cultural and social impacts of a proposed project.  ERA Price Manager, Vianney Mutyaba told the Natural Resources Committee that the application was rejected because ERA was “overwhelmed by the objections”.  

 

//Cue in: “the Uganda Wildlife…      

Cue out:…what we did.”//    

With the backdrop of the objections from key stakeholders, who also included environment and climate change activists and Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom, the committee members were irked to hear that government spent Shillings 110 million on a pre-feasibility study for the controversial project. 

  The Committee chairperson, Dr. Keefa Kiwanuka noted that the expenditure is captured in Bonang’s application. He asked the Electricity Regulatory Authority to give details on the pre-feasibility study. Mutyaba said that the authority was not aware that a pre-feasibility study had been done prior to Bonang’s application for the permit.          

 //Cue in: ”Was there a  

         

Cue out:..as an application.”//  

The Bulambuli County MP, Mudimu Wamakuyu, Nakasongola Woman MP, Margaret Komuhangi and Rakai Woman MP, Juliet Kinyamatama expressed dissatisfaction with the response. Kinyamatama wondered whether government was also a developer but Mutyaba answered in the negative.    

//Cue in: “A developer is…         

Cue out:…is a problem.”//   

    Kiwanuka asked the Energy State Minister, Simon D’Ujanga to explain the matter. However, the Minister said he wasn’t aware about the expenditure and whether or not the pre=feasibility study was done.    

//Cue in: “I have no…  

   

Cue out:…back to you.”//   

Bonang's application shows that the feasibility study will cost a total of US$3,329,894, approximately Shillings 12.3 billion including the funds spent on the pre-feasibility study.  The company has so far spent US$3,000 approximately Shillings 11 million for applying for the permit. 

 Meanwhile, majority of the committee members have rejected the proposal to carry out a feasibility study as directed by the cabinet. D’Ujanga told the committee that on December 2nd, 2019, cabinet agreed that a feasibility study be undertaken since “Uhuru Falls and Murchison Falls are separate falls that are adjacent to each other”.        

He added that cabinet is convinced that the feasibility study is “the only scientific way to determine the impact of the project on the environment, tourism and ecology at the proposed site.” However, the Bukoto County East MP, Florence Namayanja, says the committee should support views of the public and not the cabinet.                       

Rakai Woman MP, Juliet Kinyamatama,  Nwoya MP, Simon Oyet and Aswa County MP, Reagan Okumu supported Nambooze’s proposal and asked the committee to reject a feasibility study for the project.  Okumu noted that only 700MW out of the current installed power capacity of 1254MW is consumed at peak time, saying it will be wasteful to build another power dam without addressing low demand.   

  //Cue in: “We do not…               

Cue out:…renown world heritage.”//

          

The Bufumbira County MP, Nsaba Buturo who initially supported the proposed feasibility study made a U-turn, citing the overwhelming objections from key stakeholders. 

        

//Cue in: “Where no body…     

  

Cue out:…matter is concerned.”//