Enviros Say Power Company Buys Off Locals in Uganda
AES Corp. has struck a $500 million dollar deal with Uganda to build a dam near Bujagali Falls on the Nile River, but construction on the site is still on hold. The Virginia-based company said it didn’t expect to encounter so much opposition from locals, whose lives and customs revolve around the river. AES has since promised to work with the people who live along the river to relocate the dwelling places of ancestors and traditional spirits, and conduct the appropriate ceremonies. Environmentalists, rafting companies, and other opponents of the massive dam accuse AES of foisting its plans on the locals. “This company is exploiting people’s poverty by buying them off,” says Martin Musumba, founder of Save the Bujagali Crusade. Fewer than 5 percent of the country’s 22 million residents have electricity, but the dam won’t do much to change that, because little infrastructure exists in the country to deliver power to remote areas.