The President gave a greenlight to authorities to degazette part of a forest reserve in Mbale city
President Yoweri Museveni, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential candidate, has promised to expand infrastructure and boost tourism in Bugisu subregion in his next term.
Museveni made the promise at his first scientific campaign meeting with NRM party leaders from Bugisu subregion in Mbale City, on Tuesday.
The NRM candidate met delegates from Bududa, Bulambuli, Manafwa, Mbale, Namisindwa, Sironko and Mbale city, to brief them about the party’s manifesto and its core promises to voters Highlighting the party’s key gains over the years, the President said NRM had dealt with the core challenge of insecurity, resulting in peace and stability, which in turn has attracted investors.
In light of the recent natural disasters, including landslides in the Bugisu region, Museveni cautioned Bamasaaba against what he described as “leaving the mountain naked”.
He insisted that planned urbanisation would help preserve the mountain for tourism purposes and job creation for local community.
Such a strategy, he said, would allow people to be moved away from precarious areas on Mt Elgon, to control degradation and boost the economic life of the region.
“I agree that we should have planned urbanisation, where people can be in the low lands around the factories, let the top of the mountain grow into a forest and the steep slopes and cliffs, and earn money from the forest-mountains,” he said.
He alluded to Germany, a country of 90 million people, twice Uganda’s population, where people reside in towns, leaving the countryside forested.
Similarly, Japan, which has a population of 127 million people, with nearly the same land as Uganda, 70% of its territory covered by forest, he explained.
“The Emperor told me that if they did not have forests, they would not live on the islands because of the strong winds from the Pacific Ocean that would sweep them away,” he said.
“You can see how the wind is about to sweep us from here. If there were more trees, they would be protecting us from the winds,” he remarked, referencing a gust of wind amid an afternoon torrent of rain that nearly disrupted the meeting.
During the same meeting, Museveni gave a greenlight to authorities to degazette part of a forest reserve in Mbale city, but on condition that alternative land is found to grow trees.
“I think since Uganda must develop, I must forget about sentiments and give up the forest, provided we get alternative land to plant trees,” he told delegates.
Museveni promised that the Government would expand the paved road network in the region, after regional party leaders presented a memo to him by seeking special support for the region.
The leaders want the Government to tarmack 17 major roads covering 300km in the entire sub-region, among them Nalugugu-Budadiri, Kufu-Nambola-Magale and Bubulo-Bududa roads.
Along with another request for 49km of road in Mbale city, NRM leaders from the region want the Government to establish a cultural centre to boost tourism and a special ministry.
The establishment of Mt Elgon University, upgrading of health facilities, extension of water to rural communities and support for agriculture, were also key demands from the region.
Bugisu sub-region, also known traditionally for being a hub for Arabica coffee in Uganda and the backbone of the economy, yet area leaders insist that the region still lags behind other regions.
The regional leaders thanked the President for the Mbale City Industrial Park and key development opportunities, but petitioned him for more prominent positions in government offices for natives.
Presenting the memorandum, Manafwa District Woman MP and energy minister, Mary Kitutu promised a more than 80% win for Museveni in the region at the polls Museveni promised to support the construction of the royal palace of the Umukuka and promised to appoint more qualified Bamasaba into the Government, where possible.
“About the jobs for the Bamasaba, I will be looking out whenever there are some good jobs and good Bamasaba, and if the Bamasaba vote 90%, the encouragement would be greater,” he stated.
Other promises to the people of Mbale included the compensation to motor vehicle mechanics in Mbale, so that they vacate the land belonging to the Church of Uganda diocese of Mbale, construction of Nalugugiu- Budadiri-Namagumba road, several roads in Namisindwa and Bududa districts, as well as Masaba Road, leading to the State Lodge in Mbale City.
Museveni said he was happy that the road leading to the State Lodge in Mbale had been considered for upgrade, saying it was in a sorry state and embarrassing to him before his visitors.
On job creation in the country, Museveni defended a decision by the then National Resistance Council (NRC), which in the early 1990s handed back property belonging to Asian community that had been sent away by the military regime of Idi Amin in 1972.
“The handing back of the property to the Asians created confidence in the international community attracted investors, like the Chinese, who have now set up industrial parks at Namanve and Mbale, among others that have provided job opportunities to Ugandans,” Museveni said.
Museveni who urged NRM party members to know the history of their country and cautioned Ugandans against thinking along tribal and religious lines, adding that good leaders of a country should concentrate on people’s needs, rather basing on sectarianism.
He told the meeting that over the years, the NRM government has been working at uniting the country and creating a peaceful environment for socioeconomic transformation.
He told delegates that the politics of identity had held back Uganda and Africa for many centuries, leading to endless wars and political instability, even after independence.
“The main problem was sectarianism. The tribal leaders and, later, the political leaders did not diagnose the problem correctly,” he stated.
He challenged NRM party delegates to internalise the party’s manifesto and explain it in simpler terms to voters who are the beneficiaries of government programmes.
The deputy NRM secretary general, Richard Todwong, appealed to party delegates to prepare to start door-to-door campaigns in their respective areas. In a symbolic expression of their allegiance to him, Bugisu leaders performed a cultural ceremony to install him as a leader, with a wooden stool, a spear, walking stick and a fly whisk.