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Kasese Leaders Question Omission from Elevated Cities

Tourist destinations in Kasese include Queen Elizabeth National Park with her savannah grassland, dozens of animal and bird species, it is home to Rwenzori, the only snow-capped mountain across the equator, with an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, making its Margherita peak the third tallest point in Africa.

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Residents and leaders in Kasese district have questioned the omission of their municipality from the list of those to be elevated to city status. 

The discussion came a week after the cabinet approved the elevation of nine municipalities to cities. Those awaiting elevation include the five municipalities of Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Jinja and Mbarara that are due to start operating in 2020, Mbale and Hoima, to be effected in 2021 and Lira and Entebbe which will be operational in 2022.

Joram Wakibanahi, a senior reservations officer at Rwenzori Mountaineering Services, a local tour company operating in the region questions the rationale used in designating Fort Portal as a tourism city yet Kasese boasts of more tourism destinations than any other district in the region. 

Tourist destinations in Kasese include Queen Elizabeth National Park with her savannah grassland, dozens of animal and bird species, it is home to Rwenzori, the only snow-capped mountain across the equator, with an altitude of 5,000 meters above sea level, making its Margherita peak the third tallest point in Africa. 

The district also has lots of fresh water bodies, among them Lake Edward and George, Lake Katwe, the only Salt Lake in Uganda and Kilembe mines for copper and cobalt, among others. Collectively, the sites attract more than 400,000 tourists annually. 

According to Wakibanahi, the yardstick for elevating any town as a tourism city shouldn’t be the beauty but the number and potential of its tourist destinations to attract tourists. He appeals to the government to improve the tourism infrastructure in Kasese in order to ensure that the district qualifies for elevation.  

//Cue in; “When you look at… 

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Kasese District Deputy Speaker Jonald Bwambale Bikambi argues that Kasese needs to be marketed as Uganda’s tourism town and supported to build hotels to accommodate the huge number of tourists that visit the region.   

//Cue in; “Fort Portal is a…  

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Bwambale, however, hastens to add that in the interim, Kasese should be tagged a tourism district with special funding aimed at developing its tourism infrastructure.

//Cue in; “When Kasese is a…  

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But Kasese Municipality Mayor Godfrey Baluku Kabbyanga says the elevation of Fort Portal to a City status ought to be celebrated. He also appealed to government and the private sector to interest themselves in building more tourism roads and hospitality sites to make Kasese more tourist-friendly.   

//Cue in; “I know very many….  

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Kabbyanga also argued that the government should consider elevating Kasese as an energy city. Statistics from the natural resources department of Kasese put access to renewable energy at 41 per cent while access to renewable energy in the country stands at 21 Per cent.   Kabbyanga says this is a testimony that Kasese is doing something unique in providing access to electricity thus distinguishing itself as a Centre for renewable energy in Uganda.    

//Cue in; “I have showcased Kasese…  

Cue out…energy city of Africa.”//   

Earlier, Amos Wekesa the Chief Executive Officer, Great Lakes Safaris a leading tour company in Uganda, had suggested that Kasese be annexed to Fort Portal to form a single tourism city. Wekesa argued that the beauty of the natural features in Kasese cannot be rivalled thus citing the need to tag and market the area as a leading tourist Centre.

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