TOURISM | COVID-19
For over two months since it was closed to visitors, the Uganda Wildlife Education Conservation Centre (UWEC) commonly known as Entebbe Zoo, is scheduled to re-open in July, according to Dr. James Musinguzi the centre's executive director.
Currently, for one to access Entebbe Zoo, there has to be a prior appointment made, stating a convincing reason for your visit. Upon reaching the gate, a visitor is subjected to proper screening and sanitization procedures before accessing the facility. Entebbe Zoo closed its doors to visitors even before the government announced a nationwide lock-down as a way to curb the spread of Covid19 pandemic.
Having remained closed to date, the centre has made tremendous losses since it could no longer get money from gate-collection. Having to feed animals with food worth Sh3m every day, the Zoo managers had to appeal for help from the government and well-wishers. In response, the government remitted Sh746m to UWEC while private individuals and companies donated cash and food items totalling to over Sh65m.
How Entebbe Zoo is prepared for re-opening
Before the outbreak of Covid19, over Sh800m had been allocated by the government towards infrastructure development at the animal centre. Several structures have been put in place, including new animals holdings, floating restaurant, putting up security cameras, greening the environment and revamping structures among others. "We are delivering on our work-plan target and surely coming back with a bang," remarked Dr. Musinguzi.
The UWEC boss also explained that standard operating procedures are being put in place as the Zoo readies for re-opening. "The board of directors will later convene to pass those standard operating procedures after assessing and scrutinizing the infrastructure we've put in place," noted Musinguzi.
According to Francis Okello who is overseeing the installation of cameras at UWEC, there will be easy dissemination of footage from the new-installed cameras through the control room to any website or medium of communication. "Authorised officials will also be able to remotely access these cameras, hence will be able to monitor whatever shall be taking place at the facility," expounded Okello. Other constructed structures include Giraffe holding area, elephant exhibition centre, ramp rand for disabled persons, Zakayo monument among others.
Government to take full charge of Entebbe Zoo
Unlike in the past where the money collected at the gate would be spent at the centre, with effect from July, all monies collected at UWEC, shall be remitted to the consolidated fund. In return, the government will be advancing the centre with all the money for feeding animals as well as paying staff salaries and utilities.
"Our budget in the next financial year 2020/2021 is Sh13.11b out of which, Sh6.46b is for recurrent expenditure whereas Sh6.65b is for capital development," stated Dr. Musinguzi.