Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | With only four days left to this year’s Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations, security agencies have put pilgrims on the high alert for suspected terror threats.
The Deputy Police spokesperson, Polly Namaye, says they have received intelligence indicating that suspected terrorists have sneaked into the country. According to Namaye, based on the intelligence, terror suspects may target to wreak havoc during the Martyrs celebrations at Namugongo shrines.
Pilgrims have been urged to be suspicious of any object and people and alert security agency for swift action. Namaye said although police and its sister security forces have deployed to swat any criminal activities, the pilgrims and entire public must be vigilant.
Al-Shabaab terrorists last hit Uganda on July 11, 2010 killing close to 80 football fans during the twin bombings at Kyadondo Rugby Club in Lugogo and Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala.
Namaye says they have deployed covert and overt security personnel to ensure the Martyrs celebrations go uninterrupted. At least four surveillance helicopters will be deployed before, during and after the celebrations to monitor security of pilgrims.
Namaye also says they have installed 63 closed circuit televisions in Namugongo purposely to monitor criminal elements.
Meanwhile, police has advised residents of Namugongo to avoid using their private vehicles as the Martyrs Day celebrations draw closer, saying they may be restricted before, during and after the celebrations.
Norman Musinga, the Kampala Metropolitan Traffic Police Commander, says starting June 02 they will restrict Namugongo residents from making unnecessary movements using their private vehicle for fear of antagonizing the traffic plan.
He says residents who insist on driving their private vehicles might find it hard to drive back home. He says starting June 02nd access from Kyaliwajjala Trading Centre to the Catholic and Anglican shrines will be strictly to pedestrians,
Very Important Persons and emergency vehicles such as ambulances. The road as usual will be divided into two, one for VIPs and emergency vehicles and pilgrims. According to Police, no parking will be provided for public vehicles at Catholic and Anglican shrines except for VIPs who will park at Namugongo Boarding Primary School and the Protestant Playground.
VIPs to the Catholic shrines will use Red stickers while VIPs access to the Protestant Shrines will use Blue stickers. Muslim pilgrims will access the venue via Bweyogere-Buto Road and will park near the mosque, while foreign pilgrims will be dropped at Kyaliwajjala trading center and proceed to any of the shrines on foot.
Pilgrims heading to Bishop Jacinto Kibuuka’s Mamre Prayer Centre will be guided by traffic officers who will be deployed at the junction leading to the Anglican shrines. Police says Kireka-Kamuli-Namugongo road will be one way starting June 2nd.
Drivers have been cautioned against abandoning their vehicles on the roadside, saying they will be towed away to the nearby police station where a fine will be charged. Vehicles transporting foreign pilgrims will park at Vienna College and will not be allowed to make a U-turn after dropping pilgrims.
Pilgrims using northern bypass will park at Hillside P/S while those using the Northern route will park at Kira town council and mayor’s playground. Pedestrians from Kyaliwajjala trading centre going to the catholic shrines have been advised to keep left to avoid being inconvenienced and bounced by security teams protecting VIPs, foreign pilgrims and emergency cars.
Police says traffic flow on Kampala-Jinja highway will remain normal but cut off points will be placed at Seeta, Sonde, Bwoyogerere, Naalya Roundabout, Namugongo Semambo raod, Namugongo –Buto road, Kireka trading centre, Kira town council, Kyaliwajjala and Kira town council.
Public vehicles such as taxis and boda bodas will not be allowed to go beyond the cut off points, according to Musinga. He advises leaders of pilgrims to distribute their contacts to members to ensure they do not get lost.