Fourth Tourism Board charged with fast tracking post COVID-19 recovery

By Edwin Muhumuza

The Uganda Tourism Board has pledged to embark on branding the entry and exit of Entebbe Airport among other activities in an aggressive drive to revive the country’s tourism sector in its post COVID-19 recovery plan.

This is according to the Chairman of the Board, Daudi Migereko who made the remarks during the inauguration of the 4th Board of Directors whose terms of office have been renewed by cabinet.

Chief Guest Colonel (Retired) Tom Butime said that the task ahead of the board now is to ensure they lead fast tracking the sector recovery from the impacts of COVID-19.

“The pandemic has more or less leveled the ground for competition and it is now our duty to claim our due share of the market as all destinations struggle to rebuild themselves from COVID-19 pandemic.” Butime noted.

“We must with no further delay brand destination Uganda, there is no way we can position ourselves without branding the destination and every citizen must appreciate and promote the brand and in this way we shall turn all Ugandans into destination ambassadors,” he added.

The chief guest also agreed to plans to involve heads of cultural institutions in branding destination Uganda under category, traditional tourism to encourage, persuade and remind traditional leaders of their role in boosting the ‘Tulambule’ domestic tourism campaign.

“You can imagine the king of the Alur crossing the Nile as an event amidst the Agwang dance cultural tunes while in Fort Portal’. That has the same tune as ‘Amankondere traditional dance of the Tooro Kingdom.” said Butime.

On his part, Board Chairman Migereko, appealed to the government to increase the pace with which they tend to critical issues pertaining to the transformation of the country.

‘We must change because the world is not waiting for Uganda, we must render our sector competitive by investing in product development, sights improvement, so that when people come they are ready to spend time in Uganda albeit paying competitive rates, but that will not be possible if we take so long to make decisions.’

Uganda‘s tourism flourishes when other sectors of the economy are doing the same. Key to note is Uganda has been peaceful for the last thirty years courtesy of the Museveni-led NRM government and such the industry contributed 1.6 billion dollars to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product in 2018/19.

However the growth of the economy has seen new challenges in the transport sector more so the heavy traffic during rush hours, a trend that has put the government on the spot to expand roads as well as constructing alternative routes to the airport and to major tourist sites to the East, North, West and South.

In the wake of the resumption of tourism in the country the tourism board wants the Ministry of Works and the Uganda National Roads Authority to hasten the expansion and construction of the Mukono –Namanve-Kinawataka-Kampala while heavy trucks can be diverted to utilise the Nytil-Nyenga-Buikwe-Katosi-Mukono University road, in a bid to avoid inconveniencing tourists which would in turn affect the industry.

Concerns were also raised to government to rein in on commercial banks that have made it a habit to foreclose on businesses yet they are aware that the same companies were not making any money in the past six months due to the lock down. Stakeholders warned that a majority of tour businesses may be affected by this behavior of commercial banks.

Representing the United Nations Development Program(UNDP), Sheila Ngatia, the Deputy Resident Representative in charge of Programme and Operations in UNDP noted that the pandemic presents an opportunity to build better and it is important that the tourism board considers how to really implement the post COVID-19 tourism recovery plan to advance creative interventions to support businesses and to cater for critical operational expenses necessary to protect jobs, restore confidence among travelers as well as social protection of communities that benefit from tourism.

CAA puts in place new strict measures as airport opens

By Robert Segawa

The Civil Aviation Authority has assured all travelers of safety as Entebbe International Airport reopens for passengers flights today since the lock down was announced.

According to Vianney Lujja the Authority spokesperson, the Airline and all airport staff are required to strictly observe the COVID-19 standard operating procedures that have been put in place by the ministry of health.

Lujja further adds that several measures have been also put in place to minimize the interface between passengers and staff, he adds that all aeroplanes will be disinfected on arrival and before outgoing passengers are allowed to board.

He assured the public that, within the airport terminal they have put in place automated sanitizers , elected glass shield at all emigration counters and check in counters and ensure the terminals are disinfected on regular basis.

Uganda’s inflation registered at 4.5%

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda’s inflation has been recorded at 4.5% from 4.6% last month.

While releasing the consumer price index report for the month of September, the principal statistician at the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, Sam Kaisiromwe , noted that the decline is attributed to a gradual reduction in prices of food stuffs.

‘The prices of food crops continue to go down and they have now reached to minus 6.2% for year ending September 2020 compared to minus 5.4 registered in August.’

Looking at food crops, vegetable inflation decreased to minus 3.7% compared to the rise in August when they were registered at 0.4%.

‘Still with food crops, inflation of fruits is seen to be going up a bit to minus 8.9 % in September compared to minus 12.3% in August’, he said.

At sectoral level, transport registered the highest inflation of 27.7% in September, followed by clothing and foot wear that registered 2.5% compared to 1.9% in August.

The least inflation was seen in food and non-alcoholic beverages that resisted 0.2% compared to 1.7% in August. Restaurants and Hotels registered 1.2% compared to 1.6% last month, and communication registered 1.3% compared to 1.4% in August.

Regionally, the basket of Kampala High Income recorded the highest inflation of 5.5% in September compared to 4.5% in August. This was followed by Kampala Middle income that registered 5.2% for September compared to 5.5% in August.

Gulu region and its surroundings registered the lowest inflation of 2.6% compared to 3.4% in August.In all regions transport inflation remains high according to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

Monthly, Month on Month inflation rose by 0.7% compared to 0.3% rise in August.

Some of the items that increased in prices include, cooking bananas, mangoes, taxi fares for shared short distances, citrus fruits, dried cassava, pumpkins, whole cassava and fish specifically Nile perch.

However during the month of September Maize flour prices went down, liquefied gas, round onions, cabbages, fresh beans, eggplants, bitter tomatoes and tomatoes also registered price reductions.

In the Residential Property Price Index, which measures the prices of houses within greater Kampala metropolitan area, different geographical areas contribute to the index .

Wakiso contributes 39.5% of the total stock of houses on sale, Kampala and Makindye around 23.7%,Kawempe and Rubaga around 23.3% and lastly Nakawa at 13.4% of the houses.

The results indicate that the index declined to 10.1% for Q1 compared to 10.5 in Q4 of the last financial year.

The decline was due to residential properties in Kampala and Makindye areas that declined to 6.5% for Q1 of 2020/21 compared to 25.2% registered in the previous quarter.However Nakawa prices increased to 26.4% in Q1 compared to 20.1% registered in Q4.

In addition Wakiso prices of houses also increased to 13.0% for the year ending Q1 of 2020/21 compared to 5.1% in the last quarter.

Plan International, WWF and KCCA team up to mitigate the effects of climate change

By Alice Lubwama

Kampala Capital City Authority has signed a commitment with plan international Uganda and World Wide fund to ensure that whatever they plan for the city mitigates the effects of climate change by 2030.

The program manager Kampala plan international kansiime Casiano says that the commitment will among others require policies that will reduce the use of plastics and polythene bags in order to control the floods in the city.

Kansiime also challenges the government to act quickly on addressing climate change to ensure that the future of the young people who are the majority population is not put at risk.

The head of programs at plan International Uganda Greg Lavender said that they are working with world Wide Fund and KCCA to implement a three year project known as “Our city 2030” whose goal is to engage and inspire young people to contribute towards building climate smart and sustainable cities.

He said that they will engage schools, teachers, youth and city planners in the implementation of the Paris agreement whereby cities are required to develop road maps for reducing emissions to 1.5 degree limit rise.

Lavender says that the project will also empower young people to advocate for visions and solutions towards a climate smart and sustainable Kampala city.

The project that was piloted in Kampala city will be extended to other cities upon achieving its aim.

“We therefore call upon the government and stakeholders to ensure that the young people especially girls and young women can participate in the decision making process around climate change.” Lavender said

67 year old man held over defiement

By Robert Ssegawa

Police in Rubanda district have arrested a 67 year old man for alleged defilement of a thirteen year old girl.

The suspect was identified as Girigori Owago resident of Matakara village Haikamiro parish, Muko sub county.

According to Elly Maate Kigezi region police spokesman the suspect took advantage of the victim , who had gone to his house to seek shelter from the rains. She was returning to her home after running an errand for her mother when the incident happened.

The girl went back home crying and told her mother what had happened who later reported the matter to police.

.The suspect will be arraigned in courts of law to answer charges of defilement.

Sylvia Ntambi fails to show up in court

By Deo Wasswa

The Anti Corruption Court has issued criminal summons against the Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi.

She is wanted in court on 7th October 2020 to answer several corruption charges, after prosecution led by Harriet Ongom informed court presided over by Chief Magistrate Pamela Lamunu that Muwebwa was not in Court as she was ordered last week.

Muwebwa is charged jointly with other nine officials from the same commission, who are currently out on court bail. These pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The group is facing 25 charges including causing financial loss, embezzlement, corruption , abuse of office and conspiracy to defraud.

Muwebwa is accused of negligence which resulted into gross mismanagement of the commission’s funds between 2018 and April 2019

Evidence before court shows that Muwebwa conspired with other officials at the commission to defraud the government of 35 million shillings.

They claimed that the money was used to undertake an audit exercise of the Rural Electrification Programme in Uganda which activity is said to have not taken place.

Muwebwa’s troubles stem from a petition to the president by a whistle blower detailing several cases of unfair staff dismissal , refusal to renew staff contracts, irregular interdiction of staff and tribalism.

She was accused of recruiting tribe mates, classmate and relatives without following procedures

EACJ throws out Mabirizi’s anti age limit removal case

By Sania Babirye

The East African court of justice has dismissed an appeal filed by city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi challenging the constitutional amendment act 2018 which lifted the presidential age limit of 75 Years .

The court has held that the process leading to the enactment of the constitutional amendment was time barred but found the impugned supreme court decision to have been filed within time.

The regional court also ruled that that the supreme court had jurisdiction to hear the case and ruled that the supreme court did not violate any treaty on the account of judicial ethics or in terms of its judicial process and result.

Mabirizi has now been ordered to pay costs to the suit.

The said appeal was heard by five justices including Uganda’s Justice Monica Mugenyi who was appointed by president Museveni as court of appeal judge last year.

In May 2019, four out of the seven justices of the supreme Court led by the chief justice Bart Katureebe, Stella Arachi Amoko, Rubby Opio Aweri and Jotham Tumwesigye upheld the constutional court ruling that declared the amendment constitutional while justice .

These ruled that despite several breaches that took place during the tabling , debating and passing the constitutional amendment, they did not have any substantive effect on the whole enactment of the 2018 act while Justice Eldad Mwangusya, Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza and Paul Mugambe dismissed the petition and declared the amendment null and void.

Mabirizi being dissatisfied with the supreme court decision petitioned the EACJ seeking orders to declare that all amendment were null and void because the actions of the three arms of government contravened the provisions of democracy and rule of law in the East African Community treaty.

He claimed that the actions of Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary in processing, pursuing and upholding the Constitutional Amendment Act 2018 were unlawful and illegal because members of parliament never held any consultative meetings with Uganda’s as provided for by the constitution.

Mabirizi further stated that members of parliament were bribed with 29 million shillings each to pass the constitutional amendment through claiming that the said funds were meant for Nationwide consultation which they never carried out.

Other illegalities in the passing of the the amendment cited by Mabirizi included the suspension of members of parliament who were opposed to the amendment by the speaker of parliament, the speaker Sending the Bill to the Executive well knowing that it had errors such an invalid certificate of compliance and violence that marred the process of passing the amendment.

MP Zaake’s torture case to be heard next year

By Sania Babirye

The High court in Kampala has pushed to January next year the hearing of the case in which Mityana MP Francis Zaake Butebi is accusing four senior police commanders of torturing him while in detention.

He was arrested for distributing relief food to his voters in April this year at the beginning the COVID-19 lock down.

Justice Esta Nambayo has ordered all parties involved in the case to file written submissions and report back to court on January 13th 2021 for mention of the case.

However, journalists were barred from court because this was a closed session. They however expressed dissatisfaction with the judge’s decision to bar them from following the proceedings today, yet they have been covering the case before.

On the 26th of August this year,justice Esta Nambayo threw out an application by the attorney general seeking to dismiss the said torture case .

This is after state attorney Johnson Natuhwera , informed court that he was not in position to avail the respondent ; Moses Mugisha to be cross- examined on the contents of his affidavit which Zaake and his lawyer are claiming to be not true but just hear say evidence.

Zaake was later charged with defying a presidential directive on COVID19 at the Mitiyana magistrate court which the DPP has since dropped for lack of interest.

In his application, Zaake names the Wamala Regional police commander, Bob Kagarura, Alex Mwine; the Mityana district police commander, Elly Womonya; the commandant Special investigations unit and Abel Kandinho; Head CMI as being responsible for torturing him after he was arrested on the 19th of April 2020 from his home at Buswabulongo village in Mityana district by both Millitary and police officers.
He claims that senior security operatives slapped, kicked and sprayed in his eyes un unknown substance which almost blinded him.

He wants the high court to issue an order to compensate him in form of damages after the said police officers violated his human rights while in police custody.

Fisherman arrested for stealing ATM card

By Robert Ssegawa

Police in Entebbe have arrested a fisher man for stealing ATM cards.

Wandera Geoffrey , a resident of Abaita babiri was nabbed after a 72 old woman reported to police that he had stolen her card.

It is alleged that Wandera entered an ATM enclosure and pretended to be helping her , and in the process,he switched his fake ATM card with that of the victim , which was rejected by the machine.

According to Luke Owoyesigyire Kampala metropolitan deputy police spokesman upon searching , the suspect was found in possession of seven stolen ATM cards registered in different names. .

Owoyesigyire adds that the other two credit cards had faded identities.

He further advised all people to at all time remain vigilant while at ATM points and not to seek for any help from strangers .

Kigezi residents advised to follow president’s directives on COVID-19

By Robert Ssegawa

The head of Community Policing Department in the Uganda Police Force, ACP Anatoli Muleterwa has called upon Local authorities in Kigezi region to work hand in hand with the security agencies to fight the spread of COVID-19 along border lines.

Muleterwa made the call while meeting with the local leaders and heads of security at the border lines of Bunagana, Cyanika, Katuna and Mirama hills Kikagati,and Mutukula respectively.

Muleterwa says the only way to prevent COVID-19 and enforcement of presidential directives can only be effective by mobilizing the community and their leaders, by mobilizing the communities and sensitizing them on issues of how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, step up vigilance, alertness on borders and patterning to fight other general crimes and ensure there community support, as you are aware the nature of the borders along these areas being porous in nature.