In a curious change of heart, Kampala will after all allow South African company, Bonang Power and Energy (Pty) Ltd, to construct a hydropower dam across Uhuru Falls in the Murchison Falls National Park.
The new position comes hardly three months after a similar request by Bonang Power, was rejected.
The turnabout has sparked fresh public outcry, and questions as who Bonang Power is, its capacity and capability in constructing a hydropower dam.
A web search on www.bonangpower.co.za shows the website has been pulled down. As such, there is no company information.
A Facebook page gives scanty details that is it based in Johannesburg and registered at 195 Jan Smits Avenue, an address for Rose bank central Office. There is no profile on previous projects.
Its chairman is listed as Ernest Moloi. His LinkedIn address states “Bonang power and Energy PTY ltd at Moseme Construction Pty Ltd, Johannesburg Area, South Africa.”
Further search on Moseme constructions reveals that it is a construction company based at 527, Pretoria road Benoni GP, South Africa.
Bonang is not new to Uganda. In 2015, Bonang officials alongside those from a Russian company met President Museveni in Kampala and discussed power projects with respect to Kiira and Nalubale hydropower dams according to press statements from State House at the time.
Since then, nothing much has been seen of the company save for an application for a permit to carry a feasibility study in Murchison in April.
“In the absence of such a track record and profile of the hydropower works that Bonang has undertaken, Ugandans should consider Bonang a front by corrupt middlemen,” notes the African Institute for Energy Governance (Afiego), a civil society policy platform that specialises in energy, oil and gas.
Murchison Falls National Park, located in northern Uganda, is a pristine flora and fauna ecosystem but also has oil, and is already under stress arising from oil and gas exploration.
There are oil roads that are being constructed within the park. Oil production, according to an environmental and social impact assessment is expected to cause disturbance to the ecosystem.
A study by the National Environment Authority in 2017 shows that the biodiversity economic value of Murchison Falls’ landscape is over $60 billion.
“The planned feasibility study whether it is meant for a dam at Murchison Falls or Uhuru Falls or even any other parts of the park must be stopped by government. Bonang is likely a fictitious company and is a front for some people who may be planning to cheat taxpayers,” reads Afiegos’ brief.
The Murchison Falls came to fore when the government gazetted it.
But while the application published in the gazette notice and national newspapers read about Murchison Falls for possible generation of 360MW electricity, Energy minister Irene Muloni told the media that the application was in respect to the smaller Uhuru Falls and not the famous Murchison from which the National Park gets its name.