The contentious Ripon Falls Hotel has drawn attention from a number of people, organisations and now institutions; most recent being Busoga Kingdom. The dilapidated structure was recently cordoned off in a move to have it renovated, a move that received mixed reactions from the public regarding the new ownership and manner in which it was made.
This morning, Owekitiibwa Hellenah Olga Namutamba, the Busoga Tourism Minister visited the memorial building to touch base with what was going on. She was taken around on a guided tour by the current occupants as they spoke about the events in the last few days. The residents decried the manner in which Jinja Central Division Chairman Kirunda Mubarak had involved himself in the take-over.
The Minister, in her statement after the tour of the space which sits on an acre of land and houses three buildings, reassured the occupants of the building that no one was going to demolish the building and that no one was going to send them away illegitimately.
??IF A MISTAKE WAS MADE AND SOMEONE BOUGHT THIS PROPERTY, WE SHALL BEG THE GOVERNMENT TO REFUND THEM?
?We, as Busoga Kingdom are working with the Central Government and our prayer to them always is to give back to us what is ours. My coming here is to add my voice onto the numerous ones and say that our interest in this (Ripon Falls Hotel) is to forge and cement a relationship with the English and the Queen who is still living. Some of us travel a lot and are trying to promote tourism in Busoga. We are hopeful that next year we will request the Queen on a return visit to this place because this is where she wined and dined after commissioning the Owen Falls Dam?, said the Minister to the attentive residents.
?We request His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni to give this Hotel to us as Busoga Kingdom because we know better the value it has. I?m requesting you to calm down since we are in talks with the Government because the only person that knows the immense value of this Hotel is Busoga Kingdom. If a mistake was made and someone bought this property, we shall beg the Government to refund them? added the Minister.
She was however booed when she said she had spoken to the Mayor, Majid Batambuze, and he told her they had resolved, as council, to maintain the status quo. Calm was however quickly restored when she added that the Mayor was on the same side with Busoga Kingdom.
Owekitiibwa Hellenah Olga Namutamba concluded her visit by asking the residents to remain calm and avoid bickering as Busoga Kingdom tries to have a round-table talk with the said buyers and the Central Government.
Ripon Falls Hotel was built to specifically accommodate Queen Elizabeth on her maiden trip to Uganda where she was coming to officially open the newly constructed Owen Falls Dam. Ripon Falls Hotel then was the third hotel after Masindi and Speke Hotels built in the 1920s. The Hotel had in the past few days been cordoned off for redevelopment something that sparked off protests from the residents. Yesterday, police deployed and according to the OC Operations, Tyson Rutambika, their presence as police is to maintain the status quo.