Traffic diversion into Murchison Falls puts heavy toll on UWA

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Traffic diversion into Murchison Falls puts heavy toll on UWA
Karuma Bridge was closed to heavy traffic for three months

The Uganda wildlife authority (UWA) has decried financial stress over heavy deployment of rangers to Murchison falls national park to guide tourists and travelers as heavy traffic exacerbates.

Bashir Hangi, the public relations manager of UWA says, the operation budget has been stretched leaving the institution with worrying cost implication.

Following a temporary closure of the Karuma bridge to heavy vehicles like buses and lorries by UNRA early this month to pave the way for its reconstruction, Murchison falls National Park remained the only viable route for travelers heading to the North and West Nile Parts of the country.

UWA issued guidelines for utilizing this route followed by deployment of rangers on Kichumbanyobo Tangi road to ensure safety of persons and the preservation of wildlife.

Hangi says, logistics and remunerations of rangers in Murchison falls national park have had financial implications.

"We look at our operations budget, for example, if we are going to do two patrols in a day, you have to do like four now. Definitely there is an implication on our coffers," Hangi said.

Herbert Byaruhanga, the president of the Uganda Tourists Association says potential visitors have had to question their safety citing tourists' experiences online, and frequent complaints about traffic in the park.

"If tourists look at the pictures of the traffic from the gate of Murchison, someone might say I'm not coming to Uganda. So if there nothing much done about the bridge, 50% of the tourist receipts may not come," said Byaruhanga.

The tourism sector contributes about 4% to the country's GDP, with Murchison falls national park contributing 36.4% of visitor arrivals into national parks and wildlife reserves.

Byaruhanga says early bookings of tourists into the Murchison Falls National Park have delayed though he asserts that no cancellation has been made.

He says government should devise means of having alternative routes and infrastructure to manage such hindrances and ensure smooth running of multi sectoral operations

Government  anticipates completing the structural repairs of Karuma bridge within three months .

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