LAST GLIMPSE OF BUJAGALI FALLS
This weekend will give Ugandans one of the last chances to see the Bujagali Falls in their full flow, before the downstream Bujagali hydro electric power plant will begin to close the flood gates in preparations of starting production by the end of the month. All the rapids and falls behind the power plant will progressively submerge in coming weeks until enough water has been stored to support the power plant going on line.
(The Bujagali Falls, previously a major weekend leisure spot for Ugandans and an exciting white water rafting challenge soon to be submerged)
Ugandas three main white water rafting companies have already relocated their main starting points to below the new power plant and while there are at present lots of lingering sentiments about loosing a stretch of river which was easily accessible and visible from several vantage points, there is also resignation in the fact that the falls will within a week or two be gone for good and submerged under a new mini lake created by the dam further downstream. At the same time there is relief too that when electricity production finally goes underway the eternal rationing, aka load shedding by Ugandas electricity distribution monopolist UMEME will be a thing of the past, through probably not equally regular power interruptions due to a rotten network prone to outages when the first drops of rain fall, if not before.
Bujagali Falls was one of the most visited tourism attractions across Uganda, and being less than 10 kilometres away from Jinja and the main Kampala Kenya border highway easily attracted visitors to make a stop and see the gushing waters of the worlds longest river, as it starts its long journey through Uganda, South Sudan, North Sudan and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. The immediate area around the falls become home to several adventure companies offering rafting, quad biking and accommodation like the Nile Porch or the Nile River Explorers Camp and while some facilities have shifted down river to where the future action is taking place on the river, much of the infrastructure will remain and refocus on new tourism products like jet boating and water skiing, taking advantage of the higher water levels.
For now the time has finally come when the falls will no longer be fully visible and only swirls in the water will remind future visitors of what once has been the Bujagali Falls of old, gone the same way as did the Rippon Falls when the Owen Falls dam was built in the 1950s.