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Lonely streets, empty beaches denote new normal for Entebbe

Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Entebbe municipality is gradually growing into a lonely neighbourhood as a result of the closure of beaches, hotels and all tourist attractions in the area.

Located at Lake Victoria peninsula in Wakiso district, Entebbe municipality is home to charming attractions that lure merrymakers to the town everyday of the week. The municipality is home to 80- percent of the beaches on the Lake Victoria shoreline making it an ideal party spot for all kinds of activities.

Thousands of visitors often go to Entebbe for water sports, sunbathing, boat cruises, horseback riding, family-oriented parties, bird watching, camping and fishing and local events among others. The area is also home to the National Botanical Gardens, a serene surrounding of nature strategically located along the gateway to the international airport.

But the town is now a ghost of its former self. It has increasingly become isolated since the first case of coronavirus disease which was recorded in March, exacerbated by the closure of the airport, bars and hotels, the ban on the movement of motor vehicles and the night-time curfew announced as some of the measures to control the spread of coronavirus disease.

The beaches are deserted, the streets are overcast and the hotels are abandoned as citizens are encouraged to stay home and tame the disease. For instance, Lake Victoria Hotel has only six of its 150 rooms occupied mainly by cargo crew members. At Protea Hotel, less than 10 guests visit and have meals daily.

As a result, residents in the town describe the lifestyle in Entebbe as boring, sickening and dead. Andrew Kabakubya, a resident of Kitala says that coronavirus disease has scared both residents and visitors because “psychologically, Entebbe is seen as the epicentre for the virus in Uganda.”

One of the residents who preferred anonymity says even if the Victoria Mall is open, there are no shoppers and was excited to see a change when a few categories of people were allowed to come out of their homes.

She adds that the ease of lockdown brings some hope to the business community in Entebbe that the situation will soon improve.

Meanwhile, Isaac Wabwire, a hotel staff who was sent on unpaid leave due to low business says he usually takes a walk through the streets but the walk also brings sounds of loneliness. A foreign resident who preferred anonymity says he stays home all day because some of his best spots are closed including Riders Lounge, Imperial Golf View Hotel and the beaches.

Van Yoti Broogenbroeck, one of the managers of the Goretti’s pizzeria says that the rising Lake Victoria water levels have also kept the party goer’s spectators away. The water levels which have been rising since October 2019 have submerged the beach line at Anderita, Palm and Goretti’s Pizzeria beaches.

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