On January 9, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) officially opened its executive tour buses to the public with a ‘feel the comfort’ drive around Kampala city.
The hour-long drive started from Uganda museum through the city centre, down to Lugogo bypass and back to the museum, leaving many Kampalans running out of their business premises to line the streets with ‘what is going on’ expressions written on their faces.
That is what UWA chief Andrew Seguya wanted as he ordered that all five buses the conservation body acquired under the competitiveness and enterprise development project (CEDP) get into the convoy.
The buses, in addition to a safari truck operating under Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), cost more than Shs 2.8bn provided by the World Bank.
State minister for Tourism Godfrey Kiwanda and UTB boss Stephen Asiimwe rode in the safari truck, while Seguya, UWA board members, other guests and journalists got the feel of the buses.
“The buses were procured for a number of reasons; core among them was to bolster domestic tourism, creation of awareness to specific sections of the population, including schools, corporate entities, communities and public institutions in tourism for conservation initiatives,” Seguya said.
Besides being air-conditioned, the buses offer passengers the luxury of enjoying music or movies from two flat screens that hang at the front and in the middle.
During the ride around Kampala, we were mainly shown promotional films by UTB, showcasing Uganda’s tourism destinations.
“The specifications and design of the buses is suited for an ultimate and comfortable tourism experience. They have high ground clearance; with good and comfortable leather seats, entertainment and communication facilities, power charging points [and] sufficient luggage areas,” Seguya said.
The addition of buses is expected to further grow the numbers of visitors to the national parks. Out of last year’s similar campaigns, the visitor numbers grew by up to 40 per cent in some conservation areas.
“One of the biggest concerns among Ugandans is the difficulty they have in accessing our national parks. They say it’s expensive to visit the parks. One way of dealing with this need is provision of easy pool transport access to the parks,” Seguya said.
The buses come as Uganda prepares for its first-ever gorilla festival.
The festival planned for August in Kigezi sub-region is intended to tell the world that Uganda has the highest population of mountain gorillas in the world. The mountain gorillas are found in Mgahinga Mountain Gorilla national park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest national park.
“The story about Uganda can be best told by Ugandans, but, you can’t tell a story about something unknown to you,” Kiwanda said.