Uganda: Hungary to Develop Kitagata Hot Springs

Kitagata hot springs in Kitagata Town Council, Sheema District, could soon get a facelift should a deal being negotiated by ministries of Energy and Tourism with a Hungarian firm materialise.

Saturday Monitor established that recently, the two ministries and representatives of the undisclosed firm met in Kampala to discuss the potentials and viability of the development.

In an interview, Mr Robert Kasande, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Energy, confirmed the development but declined to disclose details of the developer, saying that discussions are in the early stages.

"It is true there was a proposal discussed by my ministry and that of Tourism in regards to the establishment of the health and wellness spa at Kitagata by a Hungarian firm. Minister Kamuntu is in touch with the developer and has details," Mr Kasande said.

The hot springs are located on Ishaka-Kagamba road in Kitagata Town Council in Sheema District, Western Uganda. There are two hot springs adjacent to each other.

Residents claim one of the springs was used by the former Omugabe (king) and the other (Mulago) is believed to have healing powers.

The Hungarian government in May said it will develop the hot spring into a modern geotourism centre and €16m (about Shs67b) has already been earmarked for the development.

Dr Janos Terenyi, Hungary's chargé d'affaires to Uganda, while meeting stakeholders in Kampala, said Hungary will support various projects in the country, including the tourism sector.

An official at the Ministry of Tourism who attended the meeting but declined to be named, told this newspaper that an agreement had been reached and that preliminary analysis of the site was carried out by the developers in May.

"Once complete, the site will boast of standard facilities with modern accommodation and leisure facilities like those you see inside the national parks," she said.

The site will also offer specialised services such as bio-electric magnet therapy, lymphatic drainage massage combined with well-established bathing sections, excellent and modern facilities for complete relaxation, refreshment or recovery, she added.

Mr David Atwiine, the Kitagata Town Council chairperson, said they are in the process of acquiring a land title for the area before it can be leased to the developer.

Mr Atwiine said the development will enhance a big economic boost to the community.

"Every month is projected to realise at most Shs700,000 in revenue from there but with this development, the income that the developer will share with us will help improve service delivery," he said.

Mr Tonny Achidria, the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) senior public relations officer, said the area has been secured and marked safe for development by the authority.

"The Kitagata hot springs and the surroundings are safe, meaning there is no contamination there as we constantly examine its standards. They (developer) will have to come to us for guidance in terms of doing the environmental assessment and the project's viability," Mr Achidria said.

He added that there is no activity currently taking place in the area except the Water Abstraction Project of the World Bank.

Other potentials

Mr Vincent Kato, the assistant commissioner Geology and Geochemistry, said hot springs in the country can potentially boost tourism, employment and economy once developed.

"The benefits of geothermal tourism are just too many, from health and wellness like in Kitagata, recreation, hydrotherapy, tourism, and cultural preservation. We have completed surveys on Kibiro in Hoima, Panyimur in Pakwach and Bulamu in Bundibugyo districts and they are all ready for exploration."

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