NEW ROAD TO SEMLIKI A BONUS FOR TOURISTS
(Posted 10th July 2013)
The new road from Fort Portal, located at the north eastern side of the Rwenzori Mountains, to Semliki and the border with the Congo DR, will upon completion open up this part of Uganda, for locals as much as for tourist visitors.
Recent information from the Uganda Wildlife Authority confirms that over 80 percent of the road from Fort Portal over Bundibugyo to Lamia is now complete and this allows swift access into the Semliki Toro Game Reserve, where Wildplaces Africa operates their Semliki Safari Lodge in one of the most pristine wilderness areas of Uganda, extending from the escarpment into the Rift Valley to the shores of Lake Albert. Birdlife in the reserve is prolific, largely as the result of several habitats merged into one reserve as is the number of wildlife found, including chimpanzees. The remaining portion of the road should be completed by the end of this year, then also opening up the Semliki National Park, which is right at the border with Congo.
The cost of the new road, reportedly running in excess of 170 billion Uganda Shillings, is to 80 percent underwritten through loans from the African Development Bank, in line of opening up productive areas of African countries which are rich in natural resources, offer tourism attractions and open up urban markets for farmers from remote parts.
Tourism stakeholders are keen to see a number of new roads being either constructed, improved or where appropriate work to be finished to open up the country for ‘round trip’ itineraries, avoiding to come back to Kampala at every turn. ‘There are some roads which need finishing now, like the one to Kisoro. This one to Semliki is a good addition because it will be easy to drive from Fort Portal down the escarpment. Before it was a difficult and long journey. Then we need that portion between Fort Portal to Hoima and from Hoima to Masindi. That will make it possible to drive from Murchisons Falls to Queen Elizabeth or to Kibale or Semliki in one day. The other critical road is from Katunguru to Ishasha because that will connect Bwindi with the core area of Queen Elizabeth, open the Ishasha sector for tourists and finally allow for a safari without having to backtrack over the same routes again. The budget allocated enough money but to see those roads in action from the first promises made has taken 20 years or so. Let them finish the work now and not find more excuses why the funds have not been utilised’ said a tourism stakeholder at the just concluded Routes Africa meeting where a chance meeting allowed to discuss issues surrounding the tourism sector in the country.