KAMPALA – The Chairman of Ruparelia Group, Dr Sudhir Ruparelia, has explained that they are not degrading or refilling Lake Victoria with soil but are instead securing their own land at Speke Resort Convention Centre Munyonyo affected by the unprecedented rise in Lake Victoria water levels in 2021 and 2022.
Addressing journalists on Tuesday, 18 July 2023, Dr Ruparelia said they are raising the ground of the Speke Resort Convention Centre so as to prevent further flooding and preserve Lake Victoria.
“Ahead of the August-December rainy season, we are only upgrading and securing (against flooding) of our grounds that were affected by the May 2022 unprecedented rise in Lake Victoria levels,” he said during a guided media tour.
The Ruparelia Group in a joint venture with the Uganda Development Corporation (UDC) is constructing a state-of-the-art Speke Resort Convention Centre in preparation for the 19th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement to be held in January 2024 in Kampala.
“Being adjacent to Lake Victoria is one of the unique attractions of this facility. It is an asset that we guard jealously,” Dr Ruparelia added.
According to Dr Ruparelia, construction of the one-of-a-kind 4400-seater Speke Resort Convention Centre is on schedule and will be completed in time for the summit.
“Ruparelia Group, through our two subsidiaries, Speke Hotels and Meera Investments, is sparing no effort to ensure that we deliver this key strategic national facility on time,” he told the media.
In addition to the 4400-seater auditorium, the convention centre will also have a multipurpose hall, 12 high-end conference/breakaway meeting rooms and a floating restaurant that can host more than 900 guests, with an extraordinary view of Africa’s largest freshwater lake⏤ Lake Victoria.
The Speke Resort Convention Centre is being developed on a 105-acre luxury resort complex that already has two luxury lake-side resorts; Speke Resort Munyonyo and Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort, also owned by the Group.
The three iconic properties combined, bring to Uganda’s hospitality sector about 40 indoor meeting and banqueting facilities of various sizes, with a capacity to host 19,000 people! This is in addition to several other outdoor venues. Away from meeting venues, the complex boasts 476 accommodation rooms, including 54 presidential suites and 3 ballrooms.
“All these occurrences, necessitated us to raise the grounds adjacent to the lake and secure them against any possibility of flooding. This has however been done in liaison and in compliance with all the relevant environmental and municipal regulatory authorities and laws,” said Dr Ruparelia.
It should be remembered that a year of extraordinarily heavy rains, that started in April 2019 pushed the lake’s water level up to 13.4 metres (44 feet) by May 2022, breaking the previous 1964 record, according to the Lake Victoria Basin Commission.
Even though the lake water levels later receded, Uganda’s National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) and the Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) in May 2023 warned of abnormal rains. Indeed in the same month, there was significant flooding in the Lake Victoria basin, marked but the washing away of the River Katonga Bridge on the Kampala-Masaka Road.