Over the last two decades or so, Jinja has been experiencing a re-birth, but in a different direction altogether. Major infrastructure development has taken place in form of two new power dams, reconstruction of the roads and new suspension bridge that hangs half a kilometer over the waters of the Nile.
By Joachim Buwembo
The world's longest river, the Nile, starts its life and 6,670km journey from Lake Victoria to the Mediterranean Sea in Jinja.
It is a Mecca of sorts for the world's topmost leaders, starting with India's iconic independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, whose ashes were brought here.
The queen of England came to Jinja in 1954 although at the time Kampala was hostile territory to the British monarch because Kabaka Edward Mutesa II was confined in the UK following his deposition and deportation by Her Majesty's government. The Queen was here to commission the Owen Falls Dam. To expand the electricity output of the dam to capacity, the World Bank extended its very first loan to Uganda, even before the country attained independence to become a member of the World Bank.
King Faisal of the most powerful Islamic country, Saudi Arabia, also came to Jinja 45 years ago to see the source of the Nile. He was accompanied by his host, President Idi Amin.
Jinja had over the years of colonial rule and after grown into the country's industrial hub, and was home to many Indian businesses and families. Following their 1972 expulsion, the town's economic activities slumped, dwindled and all industries virtually shut down by the late seventies.
Over the last two decades or so, Jinja has been experiencing a re-birth, but in a different direction altogether. Major infrastructure development has taken place in form of two new power dams, Nalubale and Budhagali, reconstruction of the roads and the marvelous new suspension bridge that hangs half a kilometer over the waters of the Nile.
But the most significant economic activity now is tourism. Being only 80 kilometers from the capital city of Kampala, a lot of domestic tourism takes place in Jinja. Many former residences have been redeveloped into hotels, as have new ones been built. Jinja is now arguably one of the most pleasurable places to be in Uganda.