UNRA cuts through Bwindi park to build Kisoro-Kanungu road

Saturday April 17 2021
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Local residents use rudimentary tools to open the planned Nteko-Bwindi National Park- Buhoma road at Nkuringo Town Council, Kisoro District. PHOTO/ROBERT MUHEREZA

By Robert Muhereza

The construction of  Nteko-Buhoma road that connects Kisoro and Kanungu districts has kicked off with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) opting for a short cut through the Bwindi National Park.

The  old road was passing through the international boundary with DR Congo.

The Kabale UNRA station manager, Mr Felix Beinamaryo, yesterday confirmed the development saying the Nteko-Bwindi National Park-Buhoma road is shorter by 7kms compared to the Nteko-DR Congo boundary-Buhoma road that measures 17kms.

Mr  Beinamaryo said Shs80m has been secured for opening the short-cut road and so far 3kms have already been covered.

He added that once the opening is complete, the road shall be handed over to the contractor.

The construction of Nteko-Buhoma road was pledged by President Museveni during his 2016 campaigns on the request of local residents in Kanungu District.

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Residents claimed that they were travelling between 100kms and 270kms to access the neighbouring Kanungu District yet there was a possibility of constructing a shortcut that would save their resources and time.

“We have involved local residents in Kisoro District to clear the bush and so far 3kms have been cleared. We have halted the opening because Uganda Wildlife Authority officials demanded an environmental Impact Assessment report before we can proceed to complete the remaining 4Kms of the planned Nteko-Bwindi National Park- Buhoma road,” Mr Beinamaryo said.

The Bwindi National Park Conservation manager, Mr Nelson Guma, said the Environmental Impact Assessment report is not only important when putting up new establishments in a protected area but must be done to minimise the negative impact on the existing ecosystems and general environment during and after the establishments in such an area.

Last month, stakeholders held a  meeting on the construction of Nteko-Buhoma road (17kms) that was chaired by the Minister of Works and Transport, Gen Katumba Wamala, in Kisoro District. The various stakeholders tasked the Kanungu Resident District commissioner, Mr Shafiq Ssekandi, to liaise with the authorities in the North Kivu Province, DR Congo so that they can be involved in the road project since  the earlier designs indicated that the road was to passing through  the international boundary of the two countries.

“I am not aware of the new designs of the road from Nteko to Buhoma. I have already contacted the authorities in the North Kivu Province as assigned by the stakeholder’s meeting and they told me that they were waiting for clearance from the Kinshasa government,” Mr Ssekandi said. The Kisoro District LC5chairperson, Mr Abel Bizimana, said after sensing the involvement of DR Congo authorities in this Nteko- DRC border-Buhoma road requires a lot of bureaucracies, they opted for a short cut that entirely passes through Ugandan land.

“Anybody who tries to sabotage this shortcut road project will be risking the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where it is expected to pass as the locals may get annoyed and burn it because they urgently need the road. The ministry of Works and Transport has already confirmed that they have all the money needed to construct the road,” Mr Bizimana said.

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Residents in Kisoro say they travel between 100 Kms and 270Kms to access the neighbouring Kanungu District.

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