TOP
Tuesday,September 29,2020 02:26 AM

Goodbye Bujagali falls

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st August 2007 03:00 AM

BUJAGALI Falls has entered the last leg of its existence. On the Western banks of the River Nile, Salini contractors are clearing the ground for construction.
Workers have began blasting rocks on the river banks with dynamite, to pave way for construction of a dam that will generate 250 Megawat

BUJAGALI Falls has entered the last leg of its existence. On the Western banks of the River Nile, Salini contractors are clearing the ground for construction.
Workers have began blasting rocks on the river banks with dynamite, to pave way for construction of a dam that will generate 250 Megawat

By George Bita

BUJAGALI Falls has entered the last leg of its existence. On the Western banks of the River Nile, Salini contractors are clearing the ground for construction.
Workers have began blasting rocks on the river banks with dynamite, to pave way for construction of a dam that will generate 250 Megawatts of electricity.

While construction goes on, visitors will be allowed to enter Bujagali, although the scene will never be the same.

Eventually Bujagali Falls will be flooded like the Rippon Falls that were submerged in 1949 as construction of the Owen Falls dam (now Nalubaale dam) entered its third year. By 2009, Bujagali falls will be no more. Nevertheless, visitors still have nearly two years to see the last of Bujagali Falls.

Unaware of the contractors, the deafening roar made by speedy waters of the River Nile continues to fill up the air.

Visitors stroll down the stone walkway to the riverside as they have done for ages and take hours admiring the beauty of the falls. Some touch the water, while others simply perch on stones while dangling their feet in the fast flow as they bask in the sun. Some swim. Boats are on standby for those who want to visit the islands.

An estimated 15,000 people visit Bujagali every month. Entrance fee is sh500 for children and sh2,000 for adults.
At one point, four kilometres downstream from the Nalubaale Dam, the River Nile splits into seven channels with water rushing through rocky islands and dropping at an estimated 1.8million litres per second to form Bujagali Falls.

Although the place opened to foreign tourists around 1951, it has been a traditional ritual site for generations. The local communities offer sacrifices here to appease spirits. Many Basoga would match downhill to Bujagali (Budhagali in Lusoga) carrying chicken, lambs or goats to sacrifice to the spirits.

It is believed the Kyabazinga of Busoga, Henry Wako Muloki, had to undergo customary cleansing at Bujagali during his coronation 15 years ago.
Thomas Mugabi, a resident of Bujagali, says the huge Mvule trees and fast-flowing Nile waters are used for ritual sacrifices.

“Budhagali is a sacred site for the people of Busoga. It is where offerings to badadda (spirits) are made,” Mugabi says.

According to him, Bujagali became a hot item on tourists’ lists after Queen Elizabeth II commissioned the Owen Falls Dam in 1954. He explains that its rise to fame was also because it was the only remaining waterfalls nearby after the Rippon Falls was submerged by construction of the Owen Falls Dam.

Because of the water falls, Bujagali became a favourite destination for white water rafting. At least four rafting companies have invested in Bujagali since 1996. Everyday there are groups of rafters from all over the world trying out their skills against the mighty rapids.

Bujagali rafting is estimated to raise about $100m annually. “It is the only place in Uganda with such a resource. White water rafting requires levels of good rapids like those of Bujagali standing at the maximum class five,” says Davie Ongwech, a rafter.

He adds that the anticipated 50m rise in water level will not stop rafting as trips could begin further downstream using sections of the River Nile.

Another attraction here in quad biking conducted by All Terrain Adventures Uganda Ltd and performing at Bujagali grounds, especially on weekends, is the Budondo Cultural Group.

Sadly, the famous water falls will soon be no more. The spirits have been relocated. Franco Elabu, a worker at Speke Camp adjacent to Bujagali Falls, says they will probably close their business in two years.

“We were warned that the backflow from the dam will cause a rise in water levels that will probably submerge the bar, restaurant, the falls and islands,” Elabu says.

Goodbye Bujagali falls

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author