Swiss Investor, UWA Row Angers MPs

Business Edge Reporter 14th Feb, 2024 Tourism Business Edge Reporter
Swiss Investor, UWA Row Angers MPs

MPs watch lions at the CTC Centre in Butambala. COURTESY PHOTO

Mr. Thomas Price, an investor in Butambala District, has appealed to Parliament to intervene in what he termed frustration from officials of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).

Price, originally from Switzerland, is the proprietor of Conservation Through Commercialisation (CTC), a private conservation, education and tourist facility with lions, buffaloes, wild dogs, iguanas, lemurs, foxes, hyenas, snakes, tortoises, crocodiles, and zebras among others.

The Parliamentary Committee on Tourism, Trade, and Industry on February 8 visited the facility as part of their countrywide tour for first-hand information key stakeholders, in the company of UWA and the tourism ministry officials.

  • “We are happy where we have reached but unhappy with where we want to be. Whichever step we take we find challenges; in the past two years, we paid for a trapping licence, and we have sent reminders to UWA but it has not been delivered” Price told the legislators.

Price accused UWA officials of continuously putting off his requests to import specific breeds of tigers and hyenas, which he said are highly attractive to tourists. He said that his request to acquire zebras from the Lake Mburo National Park, which has over 2,000 zebras, has also not been responded to.

“Put yourself in my shoes. If you are an investor like me, it can be frustrating, I spend money to buy 1,100 kilogrammes of meat to feed animals every week,” Price said.

  • He asked the committee to investigate an officer at UWA only identified as Makombo who he said has frustrated his efforts. He claimed that Makombo has not only frustrated CTC but the entire tourism sector, which he remarked had more potential compared to certain developed countries such as those in Europe.

The Under Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities, Samuel Kakura, assured the MPs that the ministry is already engaged in processes to settle the conflicts.

“I want to assure [Price] that we will support their endeavours, we recognise private stakeholders supporting conservation. We are going to work on your issues, and continue the engagement,” said Kakura.

The UWA Executive Director, Sam Mwandha, however counter accused Price of delaying to submit the relevant documentation as well as ignoring UWA’s guidance.

“We provided him with a list of animals he can have. When we ask why he cannot first exhaust the list, he goes on accusing not only Makombo but other staff and me,” Kakuru said.

  • The committee chairperson, Hon. Mwine Mpaka, said the committee would summon all the parties involved for further interrogation. “We need to look at the documents of CTC, understand their challenges, and see how to support him,’” said Mpaka.
  • The MPs appreciated the quality of services offered at CTC, spread out on over 50 acres of land and proposed that government considers supporting such investors.

“We have seen investors who have been supported and have done nothing, yet we have here one who is doing good work and is being frustrated; frustrating an investor is criminal,” said Hon. Francis Mwijukye (FDC, Buhweju County).

Lower Madi County MP, Hon. Ronald Afidra, wished to know the extent to which government has supported CTC, cognisant of the complementary role that the zoo plays in wildlife conservation.

“Our government provides such investors with incentives, to what extent has it supported CTC, considering that tourism is our top income earner?” asked Afridra.

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