Uganda’s Northern part was firmly put on the tourism map last week when none other thanUganda President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni formally opened the reconstructed Chobe Safari Lodge, located in the upper part of Murchisons Falls National Park.
Emerging from his helicopter, after the dust swirls had settled, he walked the short distance to the lodge entrance in the company of tourism state minister Serapio Rukundo, where he was greeted by the Madhvani Group’ directors and senior personnel, with Mayur Madhvani introducing the assembled guests.
President Museveni had taken out time from his busy election campaign schedule to carry out this pleasant duty as head of state and was not only warmly received by all present but visibly delighted when he stepped out on the terrace beyond the reception to enjoy the grandiose views across the white waters of the River Nile and the extensive forests in the distance.
After unveiling the commemorative plaque next to the reception of the lodge, Museveni was then taken for a tour around the property, where he also jovially greeted the staff in the kitchen and back of house, before inspecting the Presidential Villa for a one-on-one meeting with the owners.
In his address, the president also blasted officials who were making life difficult for investors by not willingly and voluntarily implementing agreed upon investment incentives, which prompted applause from those in attendance including the Uganda Investment Authority’s (UIA) CEO Prof. Dr. Maggie Kigozi and the UIA Chairperson Patrick Bitature.
Due to time constraints, the president could not stay for the truly amazing lunch spread on offer but did promise to return at a later date to sample the hospitality of Chobe. It was learned from colleagues covering the election trail, that he did mention in afternoon campaign meetings that he had directed the tourism minister and tourism ministry permanent secretary to work with the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) to establish suitable park boundaries like trenches, deep ditches, or even electric fences to protect the communities neighboring the park from marauding elephant and other game habitually straying outside and raiding the “shambas,” a local word for small scale farms, denying the people their food.
Museveni also announced the likely creation of as many as 13,000 new jobs by the Madhvani Group’s Kakira Sugar company, which was aiming at setting up a large-scale sugar cane plantation and sugar factory on presently idle land, including working with several thousand independent out growers.
Chobe lodge is the fourth operated by Marasa, the others being Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park; the sister lodge in Murchisons Falls National Park some 90 km down river, Paraa Safari Lodge; with the fourth facility in the Kenyan Masai Mara. It is understood from impeccable sources that Marasa is bound to expand their portfolio in Kenya in the coming months, eying both safari properties, as well as a beach location.