A combination of fear and panic has engulfed visitors and community members around the Kitagata hot springs in Kitagata town council, Sheema District after the floods hit the springs causing water levels to rise.
The springs where visitors soak have been clogged with silt, plastic objects and external water from the surrounding wetland. The situation that has so far lasted for three days, first caused revellers to dig out silt to get where to sit until Thursday when the whole place got submerged.
Mr Dennis Kandeebe, a reveller at the Mulago section of the springs said on Sunday that he waited for three days so he could soak in the hot water again but there was no change as flash floods continued to wreak havoc.
“On Thursday, I travelled from Lyantonde District to come and soak in the springs but found that they had been flooded. I have since then waited for a change in vain. I am preparing to go back and come back another time,” he said.
Sheema’s soothing hot springs are a popular draw for visitors who flood the natural wonder to enjoy the sensational feeling. The soakers are currently having a hard time relaxing in the mineral water.
Water from the hot springs is believed to have healing properties that relieve people of muscular and joint pains. The water at Kitagata has varying temperatures in different spots. Some people carry containers to take hot water back home for drinking. The place has over the years become a tourist destination.
The Sheema District senior environment officer, Mr Boaz Turyatunga Patrick attributed the incident to the ongoing wetland degradation in the districts of Bushenyi and Sheema which make up the wetland surrounding the hot springs.
“This is because the wetlands that cushion the hot springs have been grossly degraded, robbing their capacity to hold and retain water. The capacity of these remaining sections of the wetlands is very weak. We have in the past years witnessed this happening and it keeps increasing, we fear the hot springs could one time go into extinction,” he said.
“A lot of debris from the hills has been coming downstream and silting the wetland around the springs. In the process, water that would be flowing normally is made to bounce back and flood the space at the hot spring,” he said.
Mr Turyatunga, however, noted that plans are in place to outline preventative measures so as to protect the springs from danger.