By Jeff Andrew Lule and John Agaba
About 1,500 pilgrims from different parts of the country and other neighbouring countries have registered at the Namugongo Catholic Martyrs’ Shrine.
The in-charge of the shrine, the Rev Fr. Joseph Mukasa Muwonge, told New Vision online that they had received about 600 pilgrims from Kabale, Bushenyi, Kanungu, Mpigi, Teso, Kotido, Rakai and Lyantonde.
He said they had so far received 10 pilgrims from the US, 300 from Tanzania, 110 from South Sudan, three from DR Congo and 16 from Rwanda.
The first group of 20 pilgrims arrived on May 24 from Bushenyi.
“Many of those who come from abroad rent hotels and apartments in Kyaliwajala and Namugongo. Residents rent out their houses to the pilgrims and our role is to make sure they are safe,” he added.
Muwonge said they were facing problems with accommodation for local pilgrims. At the shrine, hundreds of pilgrims were lying on the verandah of the Basilica with their luggage.
Others slept on mattresses and polythene bags in the compound. Muwonge said they planned to construct accommodation facilities, but were constrained by funds.
He said they were working closely with the Police to ensure pilgrims were safe. At Nakiyanja Anglican Martyrs’ Shrine, preparations were in high gear, with the main emphasis on the sitting facilities, which cost organisers about sh120m.
The principal of Uganda Martyrs’ Seminary, Namugongo and the in- charge of the shrine, the Rev. Can. Henry Segawa, said they were set for D-day.
At both shrines, security has been tightened and all pilgrims go through a thorough check, conducted by uniformed and non- uniformed Police officers.
They have also deployed the Anti- bomb squad at both premises, with sniffer dogs. Namirembe Diocese is organis- ing this year’s celebrations at the Anglican Shrine, while Kotido Archdiocese is leading prayers at the Catholic Shrine.
1,500 pilgrims arrive at Namugongo