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UNRA Equips UPDF With Maritime Vessel Skills :: Uganda Radionetwork

UNRA Equips UPDF With Maritime Vessel Skills

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) personnel trained the soldiers, saving the country millions of shillings that would have been spent, had they been enrolled in a maritime school.
Gen Katumba Wamala addresses the gathering.

Audio 3

The unending insurgency in the Democratic Republic of Congo has forced the UPDF to further develop their maritime capacity by equipping the team with sea vessel navigation.

The first cohort of the twenty men of the UPDF who were trained for six months were passed out yesterday at Buwaya landing site during a function presided over by Works and Transport minister, Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala.

Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) personnel trained the soldiers, saving the country millions of shillings that would have been spent, had they been enrolled in a maritime school.

John. B. Ssejjemba, the director road infrastructure protection at UNRA said training a single ferry captain at the maritime school in Tanzania costs between shillings 20 million and shillings 30million. Ssejjemba//Cue in … What we are witnessing …Cue out … continue doing it."// Minister Katumba Wamala referred to the event as a “simple but very significant” one because of the value it was adding to the institution of the UPDF and the country at large.

Col. Godfrey Kyomuhendo, the Mountain Division Operations and Training Officer who represented the commanding officer, Maj. Gen Richard Otto at the function explained the need for maritime capacity was realized when the division under “Operation Suja” required more personnel and equipment and these needed to cross waters on Lake Albert.

The army was forced to borrow vessels and personnel from UNRA to ferry the required personnel and logistics for the war but UNRA’s civilian personnel were uneasy operating in the war environment, causing the UPDF to collaborate with UNRA to train the army’s own personnel. Col Kyomuhendo //Cue in … I am called Col. …Cue out … fighting of ADF."//  

Gen. Katumba Wamala who was the chief guest at the function said the army’s new capacity would now enable the civilian professionals of UNRA go back to environment they are used to, while the army go about their defence duties.

He said the skilling was long overdue because the capacity was needed operationally “if not today tomorrow, if not tomorrow the other day.”  He commended the trainees for being able to manage the learning and being disciplined among the civilian population.

The UPDF has been for decades fighting Allied Democratic Front (ADF) and other anti-government insurgents using Eastern DRC as a launch pad. Much of the region is covered with rivers and heavy vegetation, impeding troop movement.

Katumba told the trainees the skill they had acquired was not only for the UPDF because it could even help them individually even after retirement from army work.  The skill, the minister said, could even be deployed under civilian situations because there would soon be more need, as government continues to emphasize water transport under its “multi-model system” of transport.

Gen Katumba Wamala

//Cue in …  Today we are graduating …

Cue out … that kind of cargo.//  

He said for long water transport had been neglected but was now being prioritized because it’s safe and cheap, able to solve transportation problems of Uganda and the region at large.   For this he said docking infrastructure and more vessels are being developed on the various water bodies including Lakes Victoria, Kioga, Albert, Bunyonyi and others.

A big port is being developed at Bukasa to maximize benefits from water transport for goods between Uganda and neighbours Kenya and Tanzania using Lake Victoria.  He called Uganda a logistical hub of the region, for which all transport infrastructure had to be developed to ease movement of goods and persons.

Though behind neighbours Kenya and Tanzania, the minister said preparations for construction of the Standard Gauge Railway were in advanced stages.  Using the other transport means, the minister said, would ease pressure on roads, which have continually consumed a massive chunk of the national budget.

He commended UNRA and government for enabling the collaboration between UPDF and UNRA to realise the training.

URN was informed that the training was effect using ferries on different lakes including Albert, Kyoga and Victoria.  

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