Dickson Katehsumbwa and the Minister of Tourism Tom Butime on Tuesday clashed over an inferno that gutted Park View Safari Lodge.
Last year fire gutted the lodge owned by Katehsumbwa, destroying 15 cottages and a restaurant. Park View Hotel is located in Kicwamba Sub County, Rubirizi District in western Uganda. The fire is believed to have started in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry, Katehsumbwa, also the Sheema County Member of Parliament accused UWA of starting the fire, alleging that it originated from Queen Elizabeth National Park.
On 8 February 2022, Mwine Mpaka, the Committee Chairperson raised before Parliament the increased incidences of human-wildlife conflict and destruction of property resulting from bushfires across different National Parks in the country as a matter of national importance.
Katehsumbwa was summoned alongside UWA officials led by Butime, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities.
Katehsumbwa told the committee that the fire resulted from an uncontrolled bushfire that was started by Queen Elizabeth National Park.
Kateshumbwa pointed out that annually, he witnesses controlled bush burning by UWA to enable the grassland to grow to prepare grazing ground for the wild animals.
But Butime refuted UWA’s involvement in the fire incident. The Minister told the committee that the fire started from Dr. Tumwesigye’s property in the neighborhood and ended up at Parkview Safari Lodge therefore the Ministry takes no responsibility.
But Geoffrey Okello, the Nwoya County MP observed that the testimonies of UWA and Katehsumbwa about the fire incident were not convincing.
According to a police report on August 9 2021 from eye-witnesses, the fire allegedly started from Queen Elizabeth National Park at around 11:00 am and spread to burn Park View Safari Lodge at around 3:00 pm.
“Property worth approximately seven billion shillings got burnt according to the Park View Safari Lodge Management. However, this is subject to the forensic audit,” the police report signed by Commissioner of Police Francis Olugu read in part.
Catherine Lamwaka, the Committee’s Deputy Chairperson, also the Omoro District Woman Representative said they would review their field report gathered on February 16, 2022, make a comparison with the witnesses’ submissions and determine the next course of action.
Two weeks ago, a wildfire destroyed property worth millions at Mazike Valley Lodge also known as Kyambura Game lodge.