Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Authorities in Kiira Municipality are laying strategizes that will see them benefit more from this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations. The celebrations take place on June 3rd every year although celebrations normally start several days before the climax.
With less than five months towards this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations, authorities at Kira Municipality are laying strategies to ensure that the local government benefits from the annual fete which attracts multitudes from all walks of life.
Authorities note that though the municipality has been hosting the event for years with a lot of indirect benefits due to the influx of people in the area for over almost a month, they have been lacking a proper plan strategized to ensure that the municipality remit some revenue.
Frank Ssemukuye, the Kira Municipal Speaker stresses that instead of benefit from the fete, the municipality has however been spending a lot of money during the preparation and in the aftermath more so by during heavy road maintenance, carrying and managing the waste disposed off.
Now, the Kira Municipal Town Clerk Benon Yiga notes that they have identified loopholes where they have been losing a lot of revenue and also cited possible avenues where they can get more.
Yiga notes that they are looking forward to setting up a tourism and travel center which will be getting some funds from the tourists who will be accessing the martyrs’ shrines and other related places. He adds that the center will also venture into hotel booking among other services.
Godfrey Muwanga, the Municipal Finance Officer, notes they will be tendering a private company to manage waste on behalf of the council at the four sites which attract pilgrims; Anglican, Catholics shrine, the Muslims martyr’s mosques, and Mamre International Prayer Centre.
“This will reduce the pressure put on the municipal budget. The tendered company will be collecting some reasonable dues from traders who will be operating on the streets for about two weeks so that the company also manages the waste. The company will also be expected to remit shillings 2.5 million or more (depending on the biddings) to the municipality,” says Muwanga.
Muwanga adds that they have also notified that they have been losing out on hotel tax as many hotel and lodge operators have been under-declaring their guests. He says although they have been registering some increase in hotel tax during the month of April-June from the average shillings 12 million to shillings 25 million.
“We have over 130 facilities but we think a lot of revenue from these facilities is not remitted during that time. We are therefore suggesting that during those days we should put up an assumption that they are all full or we increase on the enforcement to keep track on how may guests they get each day,” Muwanga observes. He further points out that they have also noted that there are individuals who use their homes as lodging during the celebrations days which is another avenue they are considering to tax them since the laws provide for measures of doing so.
The Uganda Martyrs annual celebration, which is now a renowned national event, was set aside in honour of the martyrdom of 45 young men who converted to Christianity between 1885 and 1887 to the annoyance of the then Kabaka Mwanga II of Buganda, who ordered that they are burnt to death.
Every June 3rd millions of pilgrims from within and outside Uganda descend on Namugongo, the site where the majority of the converts were martyred, in celebration of their bravery.