Breaking

Masaka Eco-Tourism Center Rotting Away

Jimmy Muhebwa, the Project Coordinator Nature Uganda says their plans to rehabilitate the facility have been hampered by lack of a land title and funds.
The closed observatory at Masaka Ecotourism Center

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The Masaka Eco-Tourism Center has been left to waste away three years after it was closed for rehabilitation. The Ecotourism center is found at Kijabwemi trading center off the Masaka-Mbarara Highway. It was built by Nature Uganda in 2004 to serve as a tower for watching birds and animals in Nabajjuzi Ramzar site. The tower was equipped with Binoculars, Telescopes and guidebooks to help in the nature walk. However, in 2009, Nature Uganda closed the dilapidated facility for rehabilitation.

By the time it was closed, the watchtower had collapsed exposing the lives of tourists in danger. Three years later, work has the rehabilitation work has not begun. There is no one to attend to tourists at the ecocenter. The wood used to construct the tower has started rotting away. Jimmy Muhebwa, the Project Coordinator Nature Uganda says their plans to rehabilitate the facility have been hampered by lack of a land title and funds. 

Muhebwa explains that they closed the old observatory tower with a view of securing land to construct a bigger facility. He says that they have managed to secure only 10 million of the 50 million shillings needed to construct a bigger facility. Muhebwa says that the construction work will only kick off after they have secured a land title.

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Muhebwa explains that they have already submitted their application for a land title to Masaka Land board to expedite the reconstruction of the observatory. Tony Mutagubya, who was in charge of the eco- tourism center, says its closure has impacted negatively on the incomes of artisans who were earning from selling artifacts to tourists.

  

Mutagubya hopes that Nature Uganda secures funds to rehabilitate the center saying it is a viable project due to the unique birds and wildlife in Nabajjuzi Ramsar Site.

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Some of the women who to sell crafts to tourists at the observatory have relocated to Masaka town because it was no longer viable to sell their mats, baskets, beads among other items from the closed observatory. Godfrey Kayemba, the Masaka Mayor says Nature Uganda is free to secure land title to reconstruct expanded facility because they could no longer sell their merchandise. 

According to information obtained by URN, at least 60 international tourists and pupils from about 20 schools would visit Nabajjuzi Ramzar Site each month. Some of the unique animals and birds at the site include Sitatunga antelope, the endangered Shoebill and papyrus yellow Weber among others.

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