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Bunyoro Kingdom opposes planned geothermal project at Kibiro springs

FILE PHOTO: Hot springs

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | The Bunyoro Kingdom has opposed a government proposal to establish a geothermal electricity project at Kibiro hot springs in Hoima district. The hot springs, located 35-kilometres North of Hoima town in Kigorobya sub county, form a water stream that meanders into Lake Albert.

The water at the springs is always boiling at 100 degrees and is often used by locals to boil eggs and food like potatoes, cassava and green bananas. It has also been found to contain varying amounts of minerals and chemicals with medicinal value, among them, sodium chloride, potassium chloride, lithium sulphate, calcium sulphate, calcium phosphate, and magnesium chloride.

Last year, the government awarded a 2.3 billion shillings contract to Royal Techno Industries Limited, to drill 16 temperature gradient holes, eight in Kibiro and the rest in Panyimur in Nebbi district to exploit an estimated 1,500 MW of geothermal electricity. According to the government, the project is likely to commence this month and take about two months.

The findings from the gradient wells will help determine the locations for deep exploration wells that will be drilled at a later stage, as part of a project funded by the Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility of the African Union Commission and German development bank KfW.

But according to the Kingdom officials, the project is likely to destroy the site’s ecosystem and frustrate plans to elevate the springs to a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation-UNESCO heritage site.

Bunyoro Kitara Minister for Tourism and Antiquities John Apollo Rwamparo told Uganda Radio Network that Kibiro Hot Springs is a cultural sacred site that needs not to be protected. Rwamparo says that the drilling will totally affect and destroy the hot springs and salt mine, a source of livelihood to over 400 residents in the area.

He says that the salt has been mined for over 100-years and is very important in the history of both Bunyoro and Uganda, adding that any attempt to destroy the site must be condemned.

Local and international tourists flock the area to visit the Hot springs for adventure and healing purposes.

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