Row between NARO, Entebbe Municipality erupts over Botanical Gardens destruction

Municipal Authorities in Entebbe have ordered the owners of Gorilla beach to immediately halt any construction of an eco-tourism facility within the Botanical Gardens.  

The owners had been offered a bid by the National Agricultural Research Organization – NARO to construct such facility along the shoreline for such eco-tourism and recreation activities.

The construction prompted an uproar from Entebbe residents led by Ms Maria Assumpta Nakamya of the Entebbe Forum, struggling to conserve the environment within Entebbe.

The residents claim, the National Agricultural Research Organization has no mandate whatsoever to engage in activities that build up and institute developments within the botanical gardens without the endorsement of the Entebbe Municipal Authorities.

Instituted in 1898, the Botanical Gardens is the first Agricultural Research Unit in Uganda. The Gardens also act as a conservation place that holds more than 500 live plant species and holds the only National Seed Gene Bank for the country.

The Gardens and the National Seed Gene Bank constitute the Plant Genetic Resource Center, the only one that conserves Plant diversity in Uganda. According to NARO, the Botanical gardens have four core roles which include; conservation of the plant resources, undertaking of research on plants that generates knowledge for economic transformation, Education and information of the public about plant resources and to provide a serene environment for the pubic to rejuvenate their bodies.

A serene environment entails free nature with well aeration and a calm, peaceful and untroubled tranquil that enables relaxation. However the gardens had been taken on with excessive noise and music with troubled tranquil and excessive thuggery of all people who join the place for recreation.

The award of Gorilla beach the opportunity to engage in the construction of such site, according to the Entebbe dwellers would not only destruct the environment but also erode the four core values of the Botanical Gardens.

“Even in such cases when such opportunity is to be awarded, the Municipal Council ought to have been engaged for a very workable plan that would see all the core values of the area respected. The award was illegal and thus should not be respected,” says Maria Assumpta Nakamya, of Entebbe Forum.

Upon raising such uproar, the Municipal Authorities immediately halted any construction of a beach in such gardens as it was termed “illegal and would attract penalties.”

In a Public notice written by the National Agricultural Research Organization, the construction of such facility was to engage in the provision of services like lavatory, access to clean and safe water, food, among others.

“This is an effort to improve the required social amenities and optimize eco – tourism potential of the gardens,” the NARO Director General Ambrose Agona wrote.

However the residents say, the gardens are situated within the prescripts of the different hotels within Entebbe and so such services can be easily accessed.

There has been an increase in the disrespect of the intent of the conservation of the Entebbe Botanical Gardens. About three years ago, the Municipal Authorities, together with the National Agricultural Research Organization gave green light to the proprietors of Victoria Mall, one of the investments close to gardens to construct a sewerage reservoir within the gardens.

The Municipal Authorities argued that the Victoria Mall needed more space to construct the sewage reservoir to save Victoria Mall from sewage related challenges it was receiving. Another plot of the gardens, close to one of the entrances was given away for the construction of apartments at the expense of the intent of the gardens.

The residents now want consensus between the Municipal Authorities and NARO to ensure further and more safety of the place. The incident comes at a time when Entebbe Municipal Council is grappling with the excessive sale of institutional Assets such as Public land and other accessories.

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