By Insight Post Uganda
In a move to enhance accessibility and promote economic development in Uganda, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has given the green light for the construction of an airport in the Kidepo Valley National Park, situated in the Karamoja sub-region.
The decision was formalised during a meeting at State House Entebbe between President Museveni and a delegation from the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry-United Arab Emirates. They were led by the Chairperson Board of Directors, Abdallah Sultan Al Owais.
The decision comes at a time of a different environment and According to a statement from the Presidential Press Unit, President Museveni expressed his approval for the airport construction project but urged investors to prioritise the safety of the wildlife inhabiting the park.
To incentivise the project, he assured the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry that they would be exempt from taxes during the construction phase.
President Museveni went a step further, committing to mobilise the Uganda Hotel Owners Association to establish hotels in the vicinity, catering to passengers utilising the new airport facilities.
Abdallah Sultan Al Owais, Chairperson Board of Directors for the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, provided insight into the project, highlighting that upon completion, the airport would boast a substantial 3,500-meter runway, capable of accommodating large aircraft such as the Boeing B777.
Established by an Amiri decree in 1970, the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry plays a pivotal role in organising and invigorating economic life in Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates’ key cities. The chamber actively contributes to trade, industry, agriculture, digital, and professional sectors in collaboration with various establishments and local departments.
Sharjah, the third-most populous city in the UAE after Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is making a strategic investment in the development of the airport, aligning with broader economic goals.
The high-profile meeting also saw the attendance of key figures such as Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka, Minister of State for Works and Transport Fred Byamukama, and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem.
Kidepo Valley National Park, one of Uganda’s largest national parks, boasts diverse flora and fauna. Despite its rich biodiversity, the park has historically been among the least visited due to its remote location and challenging road conditions.
The airport project is poised to transform the park into a more accessible and attractive destination, fostering both conservation and economic growth.
President Museveni’s approval of the ambitious airport project in Kidepo Valley National Park comes at a time of heightened concerns from wildlife and environmental activists.
The decision to undertake large-scale projects within national parks has triggered protests, with activists expressing apprehensions about potential disruptions to the delicate balance of wildlife and ecosystems.
The clash between development initiatives and conservation priorities underscores the need for a nuanced approach that ensures progress while safeguarding the unique biodiversity and natural habitats of these protected areas.
As construction begins, the dialogue between economic development proponents and advocates for environmental preservation becomes increasingly vital, highlighting the ongoing challenge of harmonising progress with the imperative to protect our planet’s invaluable natural resources.
Globally, the conservationists rally to protect Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park (MFNP) from TotalEnergies’ contentious oil drilling. Concerns are voiced by StopEACOP activists, emphasising the pivotal role of tourism in Uganda’s economy, contributing 59% of total exports in 2022.
Despite the park’s significance as one of Uganda’s oldest and largest, TotalEnergies’ drilling poses severe threats to biodiversity, the Ramsar-designated wetland system, and Lake Albert fisheries, prompting environmentalists to call for global resistance against the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
TotalEnergies’ relentless pursuit of profit, coupled with its dismissal of environmental and socio-economic consequences, sparks condemnation from activists worldwide.
Charity Migwi of 350.org criticises the company’s short-term gains, contradicting global sustainability efforts. Dickens Kamugisha of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance calls for global solidarity, urging action to halt the alarming venture.
The StopEACOP campaign emphasises the importance of ending the EACOP project to prevent further damage to Uganda’s precious natural areas. Despite drilling commencement, there’s a collective hope that international efforts can still make a significant difference in preserving these vital ecosystems.