Private sector players in the tourism industry have expressed concerns regarding alleged plans to sell Murchison Falls National Park, a renowned natural treasure in Uganda, to a foreign company.
However, the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, along with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), vehemently denies any intentions to sell off the park or any other national park.
Murchison Falls National Park, located in the northern end of the Albertine Rift Valley, is famous for its breathtaking sight of the powerful River Nile cascading through a 7-meter gorge, surrounded by a diverse range of plant and animal species.
Its popularity as a top tourist destination has drawn more visitors compared to other national parks in the country.
Despite its significance, private sector players have raised concerns about the potential sale, urging the government to be more transparent about their plans.
Civvy Tumusiime, Chairperson of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators, and Herbert Byaruhanga, UTA President, have called for clarity on the proposed business model and its benefits for the sector players.
The contested section of Murchison Falls National Park lies in its Eastern part, where the powerful falls are located.
Reports surfaced about discussions with a foreign entity, Space for Giants, to manage the park, but the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Doreen Katusiime, refutes these claims, stating that national parks cannot be sold.
The government, however, indicated its openness to public-private partnerships for co-managing the park, taking inspiration from successful models in other countries like South Africa and Rwanda.
They pointed to the Akagera National Park in Rwanda, effectively managed under such an arrangement.
While the situation remains tense and uncertain, the government remains firm in its stance that the integrity of Murchison Falls National Park will be preserved, and any rumors of a sale are baseless.
Both the public and private sectors are closely monitoring the ongoing discussions, as the outcome could have significant implications for conservation and tourism prospects of this iconic Ugandan landmark.
STORY CREDIT: NILE POST