Soldiers takeover Uganda Railways operations

New Uganda Railways Locomotives

There are mixed reactions from Ugandans following a move by soldiers to take over day to day operations of Uganda Railways Corporation (URC).

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs announced deployment of 22 Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) officers to execute different professional assignments at URC.

The team led by Lt. Col. Dr Julius Emmy Kumanya (PhD) includes accountants, procurement professionals, risk management officers, electrical, mechanical & civil engineers, surveyors and technicians, according to URC.

“Today, we received the 22 officers from the Ministry of Defence who will be undertaking different professional assignments at the Corporation. The team led by Lt. Col. Dr Julius Emmy Kumanya (PhD) (Projects Accountant) includes, accountants, procurement professionals, prosecutors, risk management officers, electrical, mechanical & civil engineers, surveyors, technicians among others. This attachment is aimed at addressing the human resources gaps in the Corporation for better service delivery,” URC said Tuesday via social media (X formerly Twitter).

UPDF’s Engineering Brigade has been involved in rehabilitation works for the Tororo – Gulu line, and President Museveni has since directed that the force gets involved in the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR).

However, the soldiers’ creeping into management is a cause for concern amongst a section of Ugandans going by some reactions below. Gender sensitive Ugandans are also wondering why women were not considered.

Wambi Michael: “Another scandal in waiting. This is another attempt to strip URC of the remaining assets. From Enos Tumisiime to Murungi etc URC has never recovered. Nalukolongo is on its knees.”

Sheila Ebaka Akandwanaho: “This is the best decision ever! We should just hand the whole corporation to the military they surely deliver unlike our civilian government! Citizens brace yourselves for a better experience in a long while.”

Elly Rwanyaraale: “For us we want a working transport system, and extended to the strategic points country over. Hope they will give us that.”

CHACHA M.M:”So why is there no female officer here?”

John Chris. O. Omondi: ”My father worked for URC till retirement, and I remember he used to work with ladies too. Now you are bringing in a green team without a single lady on board. Don’t we have ably qualified females in the force to work in those departments?”

Dominic Akor: “But there are professional people who are not in uniform, why not give them offers! I grew up in the corporation and it worked well with civilians. Or this is another “HEIST” in the making now?”

Olinga Simon Peter: “Are they going to be paid twice? URC and MODVA. It’s good to be clear because those fellows are already soldiers with assured salaries but being placed there is something else.”

Soldiers who have taken over operations at URC

WHY SOLDIERS

Watchers say there are concerns that ‘unpatriotic’ civilians have not done a good job in many government departments.

And because of this, there is a need to deploy Ugandans who have gone through cadre-ship and patriotic training and at the same time willing to take orders: its only soldiers who have got such qualities. Civilians are reportedly fond of taking corners.

With soldiers proving to be performers, key institutions such as Police, the national ID project, Immigration, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), now URC and among others have fallen under the firm grip of army officers.

“Wherever UPDF has been assigned tasks, it takes along its character of discipline, professionalism and patriotism. This and other leadership competencies have led us to succeed where others have not easily done so. The human resource capacity UPDF has built overtime through training and accumulated experience is incredibly huge and makes the force a reservoir that can be tapped into whenever there is need for strategic intervention.

“The various achievements such as bringing peace and stability in the country and other parts of the continent did not happen by accident. They are out of meticulous planning and sacrifice. Therefore, such deployments should not be seen as taking over as there is no need again having done so on January 26, 1986, but rather as reinforcement to provide accelerated services to our people in order to achieve social economic transformation.

“Therefore, let us not burn our energies on debates but instead focus on how to best build synergies to deliver what our people desire, such as law and order,” former UPDF Spokesperson Gen. Richard Karemire was once quoted defending strategic army deployments.

UPDF A BIT CORRUPT-M7

Nevertheless, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is concerned that “a bit of corruption has crept” into the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and pledged to remove the culprits.

The president made the remarks during the 13th Annual Tarehe Sita Breakfast Thanksgiving celebrations on February 29, 2024, at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala.

President Museveni, who was also the Chief Guest, said that the base of the UPDF is good but that the force will not tolerate the corrupt.

“It’s true there is some corruption in the UPDF. Why do you involve yourself in land disputes? The base of the UPDF is good, but since some corruption has crept in, we shall have to repent and remove the fallen material,” he said.



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