By Mike Ssegawa
Though our country is gifted by nature, and was recently, ranked as a top world destination, nothing puts off tourists than the hassle of moving on potholed and dusty roads for hundreds of kilometres.
But the state of roads has improved over the years. The government of Uganda woke up to the interdependencies of the sectors and has invested huge amounts of money in the development of roads that mainly lead to national parks and other tourism attractions.
Already, most highways to tourism destinations have been constructed or renovated. No wonder, Uganda’s development plan points to the betterment of roads, maritime, aviation and rail transport as key priorities to drive the tourism potential of this country to greater heights and soon, we shall be the envy of the neighbouring countries.
In the past, concerns have been raised as to the condition of roads to national parks and other tourism destinations in relation to the comfort and safety of the tourists. Bad roads are not only unhealthy for the tourists, they also make it too expensive to take visitors to the destinations.
The Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has been strategic in its building of major roads, almost, constructing a highway to most towns that host game parks, namely, Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara-Kisoro road – which hosts Lake Mburo National park, of course, after crossing the Equator, until you find the gorillas in Kisoro.
The Kampala-Gulu Road is another road that takes you to the magnificent Murchison Falls National Park, while Kampala-Fort Portal-Kasese Road takes you to Queen Elizabeth National Park, connecting you to the wonder lakes in the western part of the country, down to the Rwenzori Mountains.
Not forgetting the Kampala-Jinja-Mbale road through to Kapchorwa – that gets one in touch with the River Nile, Mt Elgon and surely, the Sipi Falls, Tororo Rocks, among others.
Generally, these highways are in good condition, and UNRA, is not sitting there, doing nothing.
Better roads are coming
In the coming years, we are going to witness a modern road infrastructure to many destinations, including from our gateway to the world – the Kampala-Entebbe highway, which would ease up the traffic to and from Entebbe International Airport. This will enable visitors to enter the city in a very short time, avoiding the present state of impossible jams to rest in hotels in the capital as they ready themselves for a great adventure around the country.
Previously, there have complaints of visitors missing flights as tour companies’ maneuver through the traffic jam on Entebbe Road. But this could be history with Entebbe’s express highway.
Another road that is soon seeing a new feature includes the Kampala-Jinja highway. UNRA recently announced that it would build another state-of-the-art road that would see motorists drive to and from the Kampala – Jinja route in a short time. This is on top of the fund that would see roads to national parks upgraded.
The building of transport networks to the tourism destinations brings benefits – and also because, the safe access of tourists to tourism destinations only gives the economy more benefits because tourists enjoy the stay and travel through the country, thus spending more time in the country, and visiting more places – where they leave their money spent on accommodation, meals, and buying souvenirs.
The road network ensures that there is increase investment in tourism areas, efficient use of labour, improving access to the destinations and to have a safe road environment.
A safe transport network facilitates the development of an economically viable tourism industry that is safe, secure, efficient, environmentally friendly and compliant with international standards. And this is why we should also support the ministry of works and UNRA initiatives.
Better road networks ease congestion on roads making tourists reach their destinations in the shortest time possible, and also linking various places in the country, therefore enabling domestic tourism.
By building roads, UNRA has created jobs, especially in the places the roads go though, and a trickling-down effect on the communities.
Building a good road network to tourism attractions in this country is the one thing that would add to our competitive advantage in the region. The Ugandan safari would be not only a smooth and memorable one – but, tourists would want to come back and recommend more people to the country. Roads are food to the cash cow – our tourism.
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