Bunyoro opposes construction of geothermal project at Kibiro hot spring

The beautiful scenery of Kibiro hot spring in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District.

Bunyoro-Kitara Kingdom is challenging the government of Uganda not to construct a geothermal electricity project at Kibiro hot springs in Kigorobya Sub-county, Hoima District.

The kingdom Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, John Apollo Rwamparo reasons that the hot springs are a cultural site that government and other stakeholders should protect for the continuity of the kingdom and country’s original environment.

The water from the hot springs that lie 35-km north of Hoima town empties into Lake Albert boiling at 100 degrees. Residents and local tourists boil there some foodstuffs like sweet potatoes, bananas, cassava, Irish potatoes and eggs.

The water of the hot springs also has a potential to produce salt that the residents have used for centuries as a source of income in international trade between Bunyoro and parts of Tanzania.

Now, Rwamparo says that if government effects its geothermal project there, it will destroy that economic activity.

“The drilling will totally affect and destroy the hot springs and the salt mine which has been the source of livelihood to more than 400 residents there.”

The minister also says the government project will destroy the ecosystem in the area and frustrate plans to elevate the hot springs to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) heritage site.

In 2019, the government of Uganda allocated 2.3 billion shillings to Royal Techno Industries Ltd to drill 16 temperature gradient holes with eight in Kibiro while the rest to be drilled at Panyimur in Nebbi district.

This is with intent to use an estimated 1,500 MW of geothermal electric power project probable to begin this month.

Construction work is projected to last for two months. According to government, findings from the gradient wells will help to determine the locations for deep exploration wells to be drilled at a later stage.

This is part of the project funded by the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility of the African Commission and the German Development Bank (Kfw). Kibiro hot springs contain various chemicals and minerals with medicinal values including lithium sulphate, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate and magnesium chloride.

Others are sodium chloride and potassium chloride. The hot springs attract both local and international tourists for healing and adventure purposes.

This is the second opposition the kingdom and other individuals, environmentalists and non-government organistions have launched against environmental degradation.

The first one is against the construction of a hydro-power dam that government plans to construct on Murchison Falls.

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