Heavy rains ravage Kigezi Tourism roads

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A number of roads leading to Bwindi and Mgahinga National parks in Rubanda and Kisoro districts are in a bad shape following heavy rains that hit the area on Tuesday night.

The affected roads include Muko-Rushaga road, Kisoro-Rubuguri road and the Kisoro-Mgahinga road.

According to tour operators in the region, the current state of roads is a disadvantage to the sector.

Kisoro and Rubanda districts are lead tourism destinations for the existence of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Mgahinga National park which have the rare mountain gorillas.

Eng. Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, the Kigezi Tourism cluster chairperson said that they are worried that in case these roads are not repaired as soon as possible, they might lose a lot of business.

“We have for long complained about the poor state of our tourism roads but the latest development has hit us badly. It is now troublesome for guests to access the various destinations since most of our roads are impassable,” said Batuma.

He called on authorities to intervene as soon as possible before the country registers a massive decline in tourism.

Following this incident, Uganda Wildlife Authority has asked all stakeholders to divert tourists who were supposed to track gorillas from Rushaga to Ruhija and Mgahinga.

Steven Masaba, the UWA tourism director said they took the decision after realising that Rushaga is inaccessible for tourists at this time.

“There will be more pressure and activities in these two areas. We have also done this to accommodate visitors who had already booked to track today. Please be aware and liaise with the visitors and guides to explain the changes,” said Masaba.

However, Batuma is worried that government and private business people in the area may accrue a lot of losses since some tourists may not wish to adopt the changes.

“Imagine people who had already booked accommodation and they were aware of the choice of gorilla families they were to visit. They may not like the new proposals and thus we risk losing a lot,” said Batuma.

He said that Ruhija which was suggested has no accommodation for tourists whereas Mgahinga has only one family of gorillas which may not be sufficient for the high bookings that Rushaga handles.

While touring the region in September, the UNRA executive director, Allen Kagina said that government is looking for money to work on tourism roads in Kigezi sub-region which are in poor state.

She said that UNRA had already done the feasibility study for improving the roads and was to upgrade them from marram to paved (tarmac) standard.

Allan Ssempebwa, the UNRA media relations manager revealed that their teams are on the ground and the road will be worked on as soon as possible.

“Those roads are full of gravel and every time it rains they get a problem. We are aware of the challenge and we are working around the clock to have it solved in the shortest possible time,” said Ssempebwa.

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