Uganda People’s Defense Forces – UPDF has resolved to relocate its infantry Barracks frrom Bugema in Mbale to Rubongi in Tororo district. The decision to relocate the biggest military facility in Eastern Uganda was reached at a strategic and operational consultation meeting convened by the 3rd Division Policy and Administration committee-PAC on Thursday at Bugema Barracks.
Captain Deo Akiki, the 3rd Division spokesperson said the meeting Chaired by the 3rd Division Commander Brig Peter Eluwelu resolved that the process of relocating Bugema barracks to Rubongi begins effective immediately. Bugema barracks is found about 3 Kms from Mbale town along Mbale-Tororo highway. Previously it suffered at 3rd Division headquarters before it was shifted to Moroto. According to Captain Akiki, the barracks has since acted as a rare base for mainly logistical and other administrative matters plus housing families of soldiers.
He says the army through the ministry of Defense has been paying about 1 billion shillings annually in rent and utilities. He says the army analyzed that this expense, security and the strategic tactical importance of Bugema barracks and found that it is a liability. Captain Akiki says UPDF accordingly decided to relocate to its own land in Rubongi in Tororo and other facilities in Kata in Bulambuli district.
Akiki says the barracks which sits on the disputed 186 Acres of land has since been developed since it was taken over by the Late President Idi Amin. He cited the newly refurbished building hosting the Duty Tax Free Defence Forces shop and the Army primary schools.
He says they have also planted commercial trees like mahogany and eucalyptus on about 10 acres of the land. The barracks is occupied by a total of 986 people including soldiers and their families. Akiki is not sure whether Bugema Army Primary school with a population of about 6, 000 pupils will also be shifted.
The resolution to relocate the barracks comes at a time when Mbale District Local Government is threatening to drag Ministry of Defense to court for failing to pay more than 500 million shillings in rental arrears. But Akiki insists the relocation of the barracks has got nothing to do with the threats from the district.
However, Ben Otim Ogwete, the Mbale District Chief Administrative Officer insists that Ministry of Defense must first clear all its rent arrears before the barracks is relocated.