Tour operators want UWA to expedite works on Margherita


Tour operators in Kasese are appealing to Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA to expedite the process of installing a permanent ladder leading to the Margherita Peak on Mount Rwenzori.

The appeal comes shortly after the wildlife body suspended hiking to the country’s highest peak as a precautionary measure following a thorough study of cracks in the snow, according to a press statement by UWA Spokesperson, Mr. Bashir Hangi released on May 14.

Now, Mr. Benon Isuka, the Chief Executive Officer at Rwenzori Mountaineering Services, concessionaires of the Rwenzori Mountains National Park, says while the safety of the tourists is top priority for all tourism players, the suspension may not have been the best intervention.

Mr. Isuka adds that the statement released by the wildlife body has dire consequences for mountain hiking on the Rwenzori Mountain since it will cause many cancel their bookings to the national park. According to Isuka, the Margherita peak remains accessible through alternative routes which should only be developed by fixing ropes to enhance the safety of the visitors.

Alfred Kirimbwa who has spent more than 25 years as a guide in the Rwenzori Mountain ranges says hiking the Margherita doesn’t have to stop because UWA wants to install a metallic ladder where a crevasse (valley) has been discovered, adding that rather they know where to pass and not to.

Mr. Isaac Bwabu from Travel Ruboni Tours says the presser by UWA comes at a time when tourists are booking for the hiking season which is normally in June, July and August. He argues that UWA has created the impression that hiking is now risky on the Rwenzoris.

Bwabu argues that the press statement by UWA is in sharp contrast with the recent move by the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities which recently injected 10.7 billion shillings aimed at enhancing infrastructure within the Mountain Ranges.

 However, Mr. Bashir Hangi, the Spokesperson for Uganda Wildlife Authority says the statement could have been misinterpreted. He encouraged both local and foreign tourists not to cancel their bookings but rather to experience the uniqueness that the Rwenzori provides, including summiting the country’s highest point using alternative routes.

Last month government signed a contract with M/S Muhindo John and Friends Ltd to construct board walks in the central circuit of the park to enhance the safety of the tourists.

Mr. Samuel Kakula, the Undersecretary Finance and Administration in the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said that government was up-scaling the Rwenzori Mountaineering infrastructure rehabilitation and expansion to improve visitor experience.


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