This morning, we published a story with claims of ‘illegal development plans’ by former Member of Parliament of Uganda representing Kigulu North, Edward Kafufu Baliddawa towards Deputy Head of Mission at the Uganda High Commission in New Delhi and former Jinja Mayor Hajji Mohammed Baswari Kezaala and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) Chairman and former Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister, Daudi Migereko.
The claims stem from the proposed redevelopment of the Source of the Nile to International and befitting standards with support from the Indian Government.
In a 1363-worded submission to Greater Busoga, a WhatsApp forum of elite people of Busoga at 1807hrs, Ambassador Kezaala pointed to petty sabotage on the part of Mr. Baliddawa Kafufu Edward. Below is the statement as presented.
When the India Premier visited Uganda in July last year, he pledged a grant to develop the Source of the Nile. It should be recalled that the Indian Icon Mahatma Gandhi willed a number of places for his ashes to be immersed upon his death; River Nile is one of them and in 1948, his ashes were immersed at the very spot the Nile begins it’s long trek to the Mediterranean.
Years later, a statue in his honor was erected. Thus, this was one of the reasons for the grant pledge. Secondly, the grant by Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India is to strengthen the historical and good bilateral relations between the two countries. The second grant on this July 2018 visit was the Entebbe Convention Centre (ECC). I intend to concentrate on the Jinja project as its what has generated debate.
Its important though to state that from inception, the projects were two and continue to be so. Unfortunately, for the last one month, through his WhatsApp forum ‘Busoga Beyond Politics;, Hon. Kafufu (Edward Baliddawa) has been deliberately distorting facts and misinforming the unsuspecting public that the Uganda High Commission in New Delhi has two prominent Basoga, Kezaala and another whose name he at first didn’t know, who instead of advocating for the Convention Centre to be in Jinja at the Source of the Nile were advocating for Entebbe to house this facilty. He went on to say that what me and that Musoga have settled for is to have an Indian Shrine built at the Source of the Nile.
I was a member of that ‘Busoga Beyond Politics’ but the moment I discovered it is more political than developmental, in fact retrogressively political, I exited at its infancy. I have therefore been bringing Hon. Kafufu to order through colleagues on that forum, namely Tucker Mugogo and Hon. Daudi Migereko. With time, Hon. Kafufu abandoned the idea of mixing the two projects, which of course he knew from day one but chose to ignore for reasons privy to him like I earlier stated.
In my posts through colleagues, I informed and want to inform everyone as well that the Source of the Nile Heritage Park will involve a 5-Star hotel accommodation facilities, an auditorium, conference rooms, a tourist information center and a swimming pool. It will also have a glass viewing deck connecting to the former Rippon Falls rock; the place with rails where many people have drowned over years.
A pedestrian bridge will be constructed connecting the Eastern and Western banks, running through the spot where the Nile begins its journey. The idea of cable cars was also discussed but the technical team from the Government of India advised that out of their experience and exposure, cable cars are prone to dangerous accidents; hence the pedestrian bridge idea. However, it was agreed that the idea of cable cars remain afloat for subsequent expanded stake holders’ meetings to deliberate on. There will also be landscaping, beautification and leisure park.
All this was agreed on in a site meeting which included a Government of India architect, a representative from the India High Commission in Kampala, the Jinja Municipal Council Town Clerk and his top technical team, councilors from both the Executive and General Council, Commissioner Tourism Development Ms Kobutaagi, Uganda Tourism Board Chairman Hon. Daudi Migereko, and I represented the Uganda High Commission, New Delhi. The meeting took place in November 2018. I keep wondering whose interests Hon. Kafufu is representing when he maintains that Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is not aware.
When you look at all the amenities for the Heritage Park, one wonders why Hon. Kafufu decides to call this development ‘Hindu culture-based’ as stated in his article. Maybe I forgot to add the Yoga Centre, which is more Hindi but good enough, Hon. Kafufu also acknowledges that Yoga is good for health.
Hon. Kafufu questions the scope of the development and money involved. The scope will be determined by the several stakeholders’ meetings to be held as this was just the beginning. The amount of money to be spent will be determined by the amenities that will finally be agreed upon. The Indian architect came to familiarize himself with the terrain of the proposed project site and to hear from the grant beneficiaries on the nature and type of development they want at their treasured site. There will be more expanded stakeholders’ meetings along the way until the final decision of scope and nature is agreed upon.
The project will require 8 – 10 acres of land according to the architect but Jinja Municipal Council has only 4 acres. One of the reasons I came last month was to negotiate with private land owners in the proposed project corridor and meetings were very promising. I also came to handle issues of the river length and topography all of which were handled and submitted to India authorities by the Town Clerk.
“All these will bring more tourists to Jinja and that is what modern cities do to attract economic activity. If we don’t call this Busoga Tourism Promotion, what then should we call it?”
Jinja Municipal Council is not donating land to the Government of India; India will build and hand over to Jinja Municipal Council and Government of Uganda to manage their national asset. So, Hon. Kafufu’s question of who will administer upon completion doesn’t arise. He also questions the role of India community in Uganda and the answer is, they have no role as this is a grant. Its like the many mosques and churches financed by Arabs and Europeans, after construction, they don’t manage but leave us to own and administer.
When you look at point No.2 in the speech of the India Premier on his July 2018 visit, H.E. Narendra Modi categorically states that India will partner with Uganda in development on terms that conform to it’s wishes. Therefore, the naming of the development is more of a Ugandan than India affair. The mere erection of sign post stating that development of this area was funded by Government of India can suffice; better still, the Yoga Centre in the 5-Star can be named after Gandhi.
I have already explained a number of issues in my earlier submissions this evening. Mr. Kafufu waters down the idea of a swimming pool in the 5-Star Hotel but we are not talking about a village pond; we are talking about a modern swimming pool in an urban setting. He also wonders the impact Yoga can cause on increasing tourists yet the answer is in his hands.
Let me conclude. Its not true, as Hon. Kafufu alleges in his article, that the Turkish Ambassador wanted to construct a monument at Source of the Nile, rather we agreed with the Turkish Embassy to construct a Jinja gate at the turning point of Eng. Zikusooka Way to Main Street with inbuilt restaurants. This is to be in commemoration of the war of Conakry where Turkish soldiers treated prisoners of war with humility by allowing them to go to the beaches and even allowed them to send letters to their families. It is also intended to strengthen partnership between Jinja and turkey and to be a symbol of humility and peaceful co-existence. Such development can bring Turkish tourists to Jinja and from beyond.
The Saudi kingdom also agreed to beautify the Source of the Nile round about and also install clocks showing different time zones of different world major cities .This is in commemoration of King Faiswali’s visit to the Source of the Nile in 1973, where he got ablution in the Nile waters and offered a 2 Rakats Sunna (non obligatory prayer). All these will bring more tourists to Jinja and that is what modern cities do to attract economic activity. If we don’t call this Busoga Tourism Promotion, what then should we call it?
I have presented all these Source of the Nile amenities to debates where Hon. Kafufu has been involved and now he is trying to act street smart by positioning himself as though they are his ideas and trying to portray us as people who do not know what is to he done. It is the same method he used in the book publication.
Ambassador Kezaala Mohammed Baswari,
Deputy head of mission,
Uganda High Commission New Delhi.
For God and My Country.