Mount Elgon security stepped up


(eTN) – Tourism stakeholders have complained about the very late deployment of security forces to Mt. Elgon National Park, where a Belgian tourist was shot dead two weeks ago. The troops are now belatedly combing the area to find the perpetrators of the crime, and other law breakers, after the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has all but admitted that the park has in the past harboured criminals engaged in cattle rustling and poaching. Several stakeholders spoke of complacency by the authorities and said they were not happy with reaction and demanded a constant proactive stand in regard of security and no further lapses in surveillance.

Said one senior figure from the safari operating fraternity, opting for obvious reasons for anonymity: “Saying this will never happen again is a bit rich. UWA has to do a lot more to prove this. Things happened in parks before and every time we are given the same promises. We want UWA and others security forces to be more serious when dealing with tourist sites. They have to be there all the time and need to be awake all the time, because there is always complacency creeping in. Then, when it is too late, they cry wolf but meanwhile it is our industry which suffers.”

In fact, in view of previous troubles across the border with Kenya, not related to the present round of post election violence, this has also raised questions why insufficient security has been arranged on the Ugandan side of the transborder national park to avoid any spilling over of perpetrators of crimes from the other side of the frontier.

Six suspects have been detained at the time of writing this report, a source revealed.

Also recovered in the forest were about 100 Friesian cattle, thought to be stolen from Kenya and driven across the open frontier of the transborder national park.

UWA in a press briefing also all but admitted their problems with encroachment, often fueled by irresponsible statements and actions by community and area political figures, which in the past has also led to repeated assaults on UWA protection and enforcement personnel. This requires a firm and sustained approach from UWA and others to continuously uphold the existing law and maintain park boundaries and evict encroachers as and where found.