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East Africa tourism

Wolfgang’s East Africa report

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Wolfgang H. Thome  Dec 07, 2007

About two dozen Ebola deaths have been reported in the Ugandan border district of Bundibugyo. It has been suggested that the infection was carried across the border by infected Congolese either seeking treatment or escaping the insufferable conditions in the East of the country, where former Hutu militias roam with impunity under the noses of the UN ‘protection force’ MONUC. The present wave of new fighting between regime troops openly supported by MONUC has once more forced large population to flee the violence and likely carry their deadly diseases with them. (In stark contrast MONUC has not engaged the notorious Hutu killer militias responsible for the 1994 Rwanda genocide nor taken any action against Ugandan terror groups camped in Eastern Congo’s Garamba National Park, showing their open bias against the Tutsi tribes, which goes back to the UN’s disastrous engagement policy practiced by one Kofi Annan in Rwanda in 1994) Congo has been the source of the most recent hemorrhagic fever outbreaks in 2007, with a major Ebola epidemic deep inside the jungle nation.

Only very recently did a massive cholera outbreak on the Congolese side of an island in Lake Albert cause a major health alert in Uganda, while the Congo authorities were helplessly struggling to contain the situation by evacuating ill people to the mainland. No news could be obtained from there about how the poorly facilitated health system in Eastern Congo then dealt with the outbreak and the victims. Unlike Congo’s rogue regime in Kinshasa, Uganda spends considerable resources on public health and supports widespread inoculations, which are generously supported by NGO’s and “do good” organizations like Rotary. Already a team of specialists, supported by CDC and WHO personnel are deployed along the Ugandan side of Congolese border to catch any further infiltration of infected persons, while comprehensively dealing with the outbreak now spread on to Ugandan territory. Extra equipment has also been delivered from CDC and WHO to Uganda and the teams on the ground. However, officials on the Congo side have reportedly run away and deserted their posts, when the situation became clear about an outbreak in their area, making support from the Ugandan side of the frontier almost impossible to render, in the absence of border clearances obtained on site. Barbs once more for the callous Kinshasa regime and for the UN’s MONUC forces.

The present record fuel prices across the country have increased transportation charges across the board and are threatening consumers and travelers ahead of the upcoming festive season. Visitors to Uganda are advised to check with their safari companies about any looming fuel surcharges for road and air transportation, to avoid unpleasant surprises.

In a move to begin restocking some of the “lesser” protected areas in the country with game, UWA has now started its pilot program and will this week begin to send some 20 waterbuck and 20 hartebeest from Murchison Falls National Park to the Kabwoya Wildlife Reserve. The Kabwoya – Kaiso Wildlife Management Area is a protected zone of about 200 sq km in the Albertine Graben and stretches from the rift to Lake Albert. The measure is aimed at re-introducing species to an area where they were common before but numbers had since then shrunk to a point where they could no longer sustain themselves.

Efforts by UWA to evict encroachers from Mt. Elgon National Park have met with problems, when the intended evictees took the matter to law obtaining temporary injunctions against any attempts to move them. In spite of a border review of this park, and others, there are ongoing problems in demarcations and enforcement due to ever increasing population pressures. Watch this space to see the story unfold in coming weeks.

Less than half a year after commencing flights from London to Nairobi, the private British airline Virgin Atlantic is now on the lookout for more destinations in Eastern Africa. A team of the airline’s head office together with their key staff from Nairobi has recently visited Kampala to establish contacts with the local travel trade and begin the process towards a decision, if flights to Entebbe would be viable and could be added to their network. Watch this space.

Following wide spread protests from the aviation fraternity, fuel companies and concerted efforts in the media, KRA has now given up on their ludicrous demand to pay upfront taxes for aviation fuel delivered outside the gazetted major airports. With permitted claims for refunds clearly not working over persistent accusations against KRA for simply not paying such refunds with the flimsiest of reasons, the aviation industry had threatened to halt flights from airfields outside the main airports, if KRA would not change their mind, which would have crippled the tourism industry. One major fuel company in fact supplied information that KRA had not paid legal refunds on such deposits since 2005. Another staff from a fuel company, preferring anonymity, accused KRA of conduct bordering the criminal over their withholding of refunds and suggested that a ‘private sector coalition of KRA sufferers’ may now take the matter to court as well as press for private criminal prosecution against key KRA staff members to force the tax collectors treat tax payers with decency and respect and follow the laid down laws. KRA is said to be notorious when it comes to enforcement and it is often suggested they use hoodlum and bully tactics when going after tax defaulters. Well done to bring a tax authority gone out of control to their senses.

Wolfgang’s East Africa report

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