The conservationists and tour operators have under their umbrella Association of Uganda Tour Operators (AUTO) urged government to revise its decision to generate hydro power from Uhuru falls.
According to the operators, cabinet should visit the falls to verify whether the feasibility study done is true or not.
A team of over 100 students, conservationists, hoteliers and tour operators led by Everest Kayondo, AUTO Chairman visited the falls to reaffirm their commitment to save it from being “destroyed.”
While addressing journalists, Kayondo said that the “so-called” feasibility study that some individuals carried out to come up with the idea of erecting a dam at Uhuru falls is only a gimmick to deceive Ugandans.
“The feasibility is a gimmick to deceive Ugandans that there is any scientific study. There is nothing like a 25km distance separating Uhuru from Murchison falls.”
According to the study, Uhuru falls is situated only a few meters away from Murchison falls.
The falls generates about 360kw and government is concluding plans on whether to go ahead with the project or not.
Kayondo elaborated that Uhuru falls was formed way back in 1962 as a result of heavy rains which caused an overflow in waters about the same time Uganda gained independence.
“Uhuru falls was only formed as a result of heavy rains way back in 1962 when there was excess supply of water and rafting occurred. Uhuru falls depends on Murchison falls and I believe these people are targeting Murchison,” he said.
Kayondo added that “it is a no brainer that Murchison falls is one of the most powerful falls in the world which can only be compared with the Victoria Falls in Zambia and Niagara Falls in USA.”
He noted that once Murchison falls is tampered with, then tourism will be endangered.
“This is the most amazing experience that every tourist who comes to Uganda, including Ugandans themselves admire. The moment we lose it, we are losing one third and beyond of the tourists who visit the falls. And may be to be on record, there is nothing that attracts tourists here more than the waterfalls themselves.”
Kayondo wondered why government would want to destroy a sector that contributes about 10 percent of the GDP and 25 percent of foreign exchange in flows. According to him, the Government injects little in tourism yet the sector contributes much to the economy.
“Government invested in as little as 0.4 percent in the 2018/19 national budget in the tourism sector,” he said.
“I need to assure you that the firm doing the feasibility study is the same firm which has been contracted to do the construction, but just in case the study favors them, which we believe will, we are ready to lose our lives here to protect our national heritage. I need as well to tell the electorate to vote out some of these guys who are fronting that destruction.”
According to reports, tourism sector benefits a number of Ugandans including tour operators, the national airline, farmers, transporters, hoteliers and craft makers among others which is seen as one of the ways to curbing the alarming unemployment rate in the Country.
Some of the activities that tourists do at the falls include; hiking, sports fishing, boat cruise and birding among others. Out of these activities, one has to pay a fee of not less than USD20.
one of the workers at the park told Chimpreports that such games, sports fishing for example, needs one to spend about USD25 per day.
He added that in a day “we receive about 50 people who do sports fishing alone at the falls.”