JINJA: Former Minister for Lands Daudi Migereko has slammed government for cutting the Tourism budget from Shs195 billion to Shs89 billion.
Migereko was speaking during the launch of the Nile Conservation campaign at Source of the Nile Hotel in Jinja on Thursday.
The campaign aims at preserving River Nile, the longest river in the world and one the leading tourist attractions in the country.
“Incidentally news of the budget cut came the very week CNN, Fox news and other international media had just run stories about Uganda being ranked among the top tourism destinations in the world,” Migereko said.
“What is the problem? I am sure the international community must be wondering what is happening,” Migereko added.
State Minister for Kampala Kabuye Kyofatogabye while speaking on behalf of the 3rd Deputy Prime Minister Lukia Isanga Nakadama and Minister for the Presidency Milly Babalanda, said environmental conservation is a responsibility of everybody.
He urged Busoga residents living in swamps to relocate or risk prosecution. He, however, warned those who are forcefully evicting people from swamps.
“Forcefully evicting people from swamps is wrong. It is a misrepresentation of the President’s directive. I am going to ask the Hon. Minister for the Presidency to re-write the directive for purposes of clarity,” Kyofatogabye said.
Former minister for Agriculture Victoria Sekitoleko urged people to embrace tree planting as a way of mitigating climate change.
“It is so hot in Jinja. Jinja never used to be this hot but people have cut down all trees,” Sekitoleko said.
She urged people to revist the culture of yester years when every home had a special tree.
“Every home used to have a special tree which was not meant to be cut down. They would say it is a tree for the spirits and it was left to be. I only discovered later that this was only aimed at protecting the environment,” Sekitoleko said.
The organizer of the campaign, Toshi Bwana, of Umoja Conservation Trust in an interview with this reporter said there is need to conserve the Nile for the future generations.
“We cannot talk of promoting tourism when the mighty River Nile is being destroyed. Our campaign aims at boosting efforts to preserve the Nile,” Bwana said.
The launch of the campaign that will climax on April 5, was also attended by Principal of the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute Miriam Namutosi, district leaders, Members of Parliament and resident district commissioners, among others.