The Minister of State for Energy, Eng. Simon D’Ujanga says that government will consider conducting the feasibility study on Uhuru Hydro-power project.
D’Ujanga made the statement on Tuesday when he appeared before the Natural Resources committee that is currently inquiring into the construction of a dam on Uhuru Falls.
Last year, South African company, Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Limited applied to conduct the feasibility study at Uhuru Falls. However, the Committee chairperson, Keefa Kiwanuka asked why government is still interested in the feasibility study on the Uhuru falls site amidst backlash from the public.
Also, a cross-section of MPs also questioned the company’s impartiality in conducting the feasibility study and yet it is also the developer for the controversial project.
D’Ujanga says that the study will settle matter on whether or not to construct the dam.
Committee members led by Nsaba Buturo (Bufumbira East) and Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East), say the developer has vested interests in the proposed dam.
Namayanja, who is also the shadow minister for environment says that the government is also acting against the wishes of the public to insist on conducting the feasibility study.
D’Ujanga says that the MPs are right to express reservations on the possibility of conflict of interest. However, he says that the Electricity Act, 1999 does not bar the developer from conducting a feasibility study on a proposed project to ascertain its viability.
He says that the feasibility studies for Kiba, Oryang and Ayago power dams have been conducted by their respective developers but the one of Uhuru Falls stalled due to strong objections from a number of stakeholders.
D’Ujanga explained to Uganda Radio Network-URN that government through Uganda Electricity Generation Company Limited-UEGCL can apply to ERA for a permit to undertake the feasibility study for the proposed project.
He says that the ministry will have to look into how much it might cost to undertake the feasibility study.
D’Ujanga is expected to return next Wednesday with cost estimates for the feasibility study and also details on the proposed dam, such as the exact location of Uhuru Falls.
In 2017, government signed an MOU with a South African firm, M/s Bonang Energy and Power Ltd to undertake the feasibility study so as to establish a 360 MW hydropower dam along River Nile. Uhuru Falls is adjacent to Murchison Falls and thereby located within the Murchison Falls National Park in Kiryandongo and Nwoya districts.
In June 2019, the Electricity Regulatory Authority-ERA issued a notice indicating that the company had applied for a permit to undertake detailed feasibility studies for the project.