Jinja, Buikwe traders gear up for Nyege Nyege

Revellers enjoy last year’s annual Nyege Nyege Festival at Itanda Falls in Jinja District. PHOTO | DENIS EDEMA

What you need to know:

  • A mini-survey conducted by this publication within Njeru Municipality and Jinja City indicates that lodges and hotels, among other facilities, have been booked to full capacity.

The business community in Jinja City and Buikwe District are gearing up for this year’s annual Nyege Nyege Festival.

The festival is slated to take place from November 9 to 13 at the Source of the River Nile, Golf Course (Jinja Club) and Jinja Agricultural Showground.

A mini-survey conducted by this publication within Njeru Municipality and Jinja City indicates that lodges and hotels, among other facilities, have been booked to full capacity.

The publication has also established that some owners of good and spacious houses in Jinja City and Njeru Municipality have rented them out for the four-day event since their children are in boarding schools.

Ms Hellen Namutamba, one of the organisers, who also doubles as Busoga Kingdom Minister for Tourism and Heritage, says the business community from the Source of the Nile and beyond is already benefiting from the event, even before its commencement.

“The uniqueness of this year’s event is that Busoga, being a host, shall have a special stage to showcase Nyege Nyege, promote local artistes and talent to the international community,” Ms Namutamba said in an interview at the weekend.

She added: “We shall also have masters of ceremonies (MCs), and comedians from within the region and at national level, and a variety of traditional performances to promote cultures in the country at international level by the local artistes, comedians, DJs and TikTok content creaters.”

Ms Namutamba further explained that the business community is going to display several traditional and heritage items such as food, clothes, and shoes among other crafts.

Ms Namutamba further said the reason hotels have been booked in advance is because after Nyege Nyege, some of the revellers will be interested in visiting tourism sites across the country.

At the launch of the annual festival on August 22, tickets went for Shs160,000, before gradually being increased to Shs200,000 and currently Shs250,000.

Mr Rogers Kuboyo, the Jinja City commercial officer, said both organisers and locals await enormous business opportunities as the event commences.

“As a technical person in business issues,  I  can see no loser with the coming of Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja City because the organisers will get money from revellers coming from all corners of the world, while locals, including those with petty businesses such as chapati, will reap money from guests,’’ Mr Kuboyo said.

He added that the Nyege Nyege Festival will not only create business opportunities for those getting stalls inside the three venues, but for even those who will remain at home, by way of creating parking spaces in their compounds.

Mr Kuboyo further explained that an influx of vehicles is expected in Jinja City which will need parking and where locals with big compounds can gazette for parking and get money without accessing the Nyege Nyege venue.

He urged traders with consumables and non-consumables to start laying strategies for this event ahead of its kick-off on November 9, adding that some people, especially those with small families, will have to leave their homes to be rented out.

Mr Kuboyo said hotels around Jinja City are booked out and because of this, seeking private accommodation in residential areas will be the option.

“The Nyege Nyege opportunities have not left out both local and central governments slated to tax the income earned. Jinja City will be exposed to the outside world as a tourist hub, while the event will also act as a learning opportunity for locals who will interact with people of different cultures,” he said.

Ms Brenda Kisakye, the manager John Speke canteen, said she expects to double her sales once the event starts, adding that she is looking for capital to boost her business before the start of the festival to avoid last-minute stocking of drinks.

Last year’s event was held at Itanda Village near Itanda Falls, whose residents have described the transfer of Nyege Nyege to the Source of River Nile as “a big loss” to them.

Mr Abdallah Suuta, the LC3 chairperson of Butagaya Sub-county in Jinja District, said residents had never made as much money as they made when Nyege Nyege Festival was hosted in their area.

“The prices of food items was unbelievable. A chapati with two eggs, commonly known as rolex (roll eggs), that used to cost Shs2,000, was being sold at Shs10,000.

"A local hen was at Shs120,000, up from Shs30,000. Broilers are going from Shs40,000 to between Shs70,000 and Shs100,000, while goats were being sold at between Shs350,000 and Shs400,000,” he said.

Mr Suuta said one of his residents identified as Muzamiru Kagwirawo, who sold gumboots during last year’s Nyege Nyege Festival, made a holy pilgrimage to Mecca after earning abnormal profits.

“Mr Kagwirawo was selling gumboots at Shs12,000, but during Nyege Nyege, he increased the price to between Shs100,000 and Shs250,000 per pair because it was during the rainy season.

"Because the demand was too high, he went to (Jinja) City and returned with a full pick-up truck which was emptied within a few minutes. After the festival, he went to Mecca and is now Hajji, but is now disappointed that Nyege Nyege was transferred,’’ Mr Suuta said.

Mr Suuta added that residents were preparing for Nyege Nyege by constructing toilets and organising their compounds to be used as parking or for erecting tents at Shs50,000 per tent for space, with one person poised to have as many as 30 people in his compound.

Mr Suuta said those working in restaurants also tripled the prices for a plate of food, while those in the transport sector also earned abnormal money as the area witnessed traffic jam, which had never existed in the area.

Compiled by Abubaker Kirunda, Denis Edema & Tausi Nakato