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Kalangala on heightened security alert over terror threats

MV Kalangala

Kalangala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | There is heightened security deployment at boarding stations of public transport water vessels that operate between Masaka district and Kalangala Islands on Lake Victoria over terror threats.

At least a dozen armed security officers that comprise the police and Uganda People’s Defense Force-UPDF soldiers are deployed at both gates of the ferries loading stations to oversee thorough checking of all persons before they are allowed on board.

The route to Kalangala from Masaka mainland is deployed with two cargo and passenger ferries that are operated by Kalangala Infrastructure Services-KIS limited, a private firm contracted by the government under the public-private partnership arrangement.

At the moment, the security teams have mounted two tight checkpoints at either side of the gates into the ferry’s docking stations at Bukakata, on the side of Masaka and Luku on Bugala main island on the side of Kalangala district.

Moses Mugerwa who operates a kiosk a few meters from the docking station in Bukakata says they started seeing the unusual security deployment in the area about a week ago. He adds that the army has also increased surveillance in the area and suspended the operations of private boats that used to transport passengers between Kalangala and Masaka.

“We have all along been having the private guards and ferry staffs who carry out checking and registration of passengers before they allowed aboard. But recently, the army came and took over the roles, and placed blockades and tyre-spikes in the road to start manning the security of this place,” he says.

Apollo Mugume, the Kalangala Resident District Commissioner and Chairperson of the District Security Committee reveals that the deployment was necessitated by high-level intelligence about the terror threats that the area is facing.

While addressing a public meeting at Bugoma village, it was noted that security obtained reports of a likelihood of subversive activities that were being planned by wrong elements who are targeting to use vessels on Lake Victoria.

Francis Kaweesi, an operator of a private fishing boat at the Bukakata landing site says that the army has lately stopped them from carrying any passengers across the lake. He says that initially, boat operators would make money from passengers who are left by the ferry, which is not possible at the moment.

Masaka District Police Commander Moses Nanoka says that their interventions are intended to secure the area following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks. He asked the public to heighten their vigilance and cooperate with the security agencies by reporting any suspicious people in their communities.

But Major Ninsiima Lwemijuma, the spokesperson of the UPDF Armoured Brigade headquarters at Kisijjagirwa in Masaka says their presence at the ferry docking points and the waters is part of their routine operations through which they execute their mandate of securing the country.

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