Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has completed and commissioned three blocks with self catering facilities in Queen Elizabeth National Park to provide additional accommodation for the increasing numbers of tourists visiting the country’s second largest and oldest protected area.
The blocks which formerly housed the senior staff of the organization in the Mweya Peninsular which is the hub of the tourism activities in Queen Elizabeth National Park, were renovated and improved with internally generated revenue.
The chairman Board of Trustees, UWA, Mr. Benjamin Otto, presided over the official commissioning of the facilities last week in company of the board members and UWA management led by the acting Executive Director, Dr. Andrew Ggunga Seguya.
During the board’s first field trip to the conservation area, the board also commissioned two new ranger posts at Nyamusingiri near Imaramagambo forest in the Kyambura Wildlife Reserve and Kyondo ranger post in Karusandara Sub County which is a major corridor for wildlife between Queen Elizabeth and Kibale National Parks.
Mr. Otto flanked by the acting Chief Conservation Area Manager, UWA, Mr. Charles Tumwesigye and the manager Queen Elizabeth Conservation Area, Mr. Nelson Guma, also commissioned the refurbished TOPI boat before taking a ride on the famous Kazinga channel during which he marveled at a variety of wildlife and beautiful scenery.
According to the resident UWA civil engineer, Mr. David Lubwama, the roofs for the houses were replaced, the plumbing system overhauled, drainage improved as well as new coat of paint on the walls.
Mr. Nelson Guma told the board that with the new facilities visitors can now come with their families and stay longer in the park while strengthening their bonding ties. He said there are more facilities to be turned into tourist houses following the shifting of the park administration offices to Katunguru in 2009.
Mr. Charles Tumwesigye said the former board led by Mr. Andrew Kasirye had empowered the Conservation Area Managers (CAMs) to take charge ad come up with innovative ideas which the headquarters would support. He said that was how the park management came up with the idea of transforming the former senior staff quarters into tourist accommodation facilities.
The acting Executive Director Dr. Seguya announced plans to set up two construction units one to be based in Queen Elizabeth National park to take charge of the western circuit protected areas and another in Murchison Falls National Park to work in the infrastructure in the Northern circuit. He also said UWA intends to put up 1000 units for ranger accommodation in all the protected areas in the next three years.
The board chairman applauded the UWA management for the efforts in rehabilitation of the facilities using minimal resources generated internally. He said the new facilities would encourage more visitors especially Ugandans to enjoy their own heritage and stay longer in the parks.
He argued that although the primary role of the authority is conservation, there was need to ensure customer satisfaction, provide good accommodation and security.
During the field visit, the board and senior managers also visited areas where trenches have been excavated to prevent elephant raids on the neighbouring community plantations, toured the BAT cave in Imaramagambo forest, and drove through the explosion crater drive which the organization plans to develop as the alternative entry route to the park through the Queen’s pavilion.