KISORO. More than 100 tourists were on Wednesday left stranded in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest after a downpour caused landslides, blocking all the roads connecting to the park.
The most affected are Rushanga and Nkuringo mountain gorilla tracking areas in Kisoro District.
The Kigezi Tourism Cluster chairman, Mr Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, yesterday said the tourists had booked for gorilla tracking but could not access the national park because all the roads were blocked and bridges were washed away.
“Tourists getting stranded in this area is a big loss. In case the tourists demanded for the refund of their money they paid for gorilla permits, we could lose about Shs230m. The tour operators and the campsite owners shall be equally affected,” Mr Mbabazi said.
Recently, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) announced that government will develop the Bwindi-Rwenzori Tourism circuit to unlock the area’s tourism potential. According to them, the proposed project includes; Kihihi-Butogota-Buhoma, Kabale-Lake Bunyonyi, Kisoro-Mgahinga and Kisoro- Nkuringo-Muko/Rubuguri-Nteko roads. However, it is not clear when roadworks will commence.
Mr Mbabazi has, however, challenged the government to fulfill its promise of tarmacking all the tourism roads in the country to avoid any losses.
“I appeal to the government to stop its bureaucracies and embark on tarmacking these roads as promised by President Museveni during his 2016 presidential campaigns,” Mr Mbabazi said.
The UNRA station engineer for Kigezi Sub-region, Mr Augustine Kabanda, said he has already deployed equipment to open affected road sections.
“After being notified, I immediately dispatched a team of road engineers with tractors and bull dozers to ensure that the damaged road sections are fixed. They are currently on site and in few days, all shall be fixed,” Mr Kabanda said.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority area conservation manager for Bwindi and Mgahinga national parks, Mr Pontius Ezuma, said they have resolved to relocate the stranded tourists to Ruhija and Mgahinga mountain gorilla tracking areas as the affected areas are being fixed.
The Kisoro District LC5 chairman, Mr Abel Bizimana, said the government should apologise to the stranded tourists because it has failed to fulfil its promise of tarmacking the roads in the area.