Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA is feuding with residents and leaders of Bwambara sub-county in Rukungiri district over the use of a two-kilometre road locally known as Ashatu ana munaana (38).
The road goes through Queen Elizabeth National Park from Bwambara sub-county to Kihihi-Kasese road in Kihihi sub-county in Kanungu district. It is the shortest route that connects Bwambara and Kihihi, according to locals and leaders.
However, UWA has barred residents from using the road. Negotiations between the two parties hit a dead end after UWA officials insisted that locals find an alternative route to cross from the park.
The decision has not gone down well with residents, who accuse UWA of not giving them the exact reasons for barring them from using the road. Ambrose Kibuuka Tumwesigye, one of the residents of Bwambara sub-county, says that they have been using the road for more than three decades and they were surprised when UWA barred them from using it.
Kibuuka wants UWA to give them reasons as to why they can no longer use the road.
Justus Ngabirano, the Mbwambara parish councillor, says that in addition to facilitating the transportation of agricultural produce to Kihihi sub-county, the Uganda-DRC border of Ishaha in Kanungu district and Kihihi in Kasese district, it also helps learners to cross from Bwambara to Kihihi for studies.
Ngabirano says that currently, farmers are struggling to transport onions and rice to markets in Kanungu and Kasese districts because of the road closure.
Geoffrey Kyomukama, the Rukungiri LC 5 Chairperson wants UWA to reverse its decision blocking residents from using the road and set guidelines for its usage.
Kyomukama says that some residents of Kikarara parish use the road to access water points. He says that however much UWA argues that residents may use thethe road for poaching, many residents have abandoned the vice.
Bashir Hangi, the Communications Manager of UWA insists that the disputed road is illegally in existence. He also says that UWA doesn’t encourage many roads in the park for the safety of the users.
“This is not an official road. It is an illegal footpath in the park which is not permissible. We don’t need many roads in the Park. It is for the safety of people that we stop them from using the road, anything can happen to them while in the park and we will have to explain. It is, therefore, better than we don’t allow such illegality which can cause danger to people to continue”, says Hangi.
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