AMURU, UGANDA; Over a dozen Uganda People’s Defence Forces soldiers under the 71st Battalion in Okidi detach, Atiak sub county, Amuru district are homeless after a devastating fire razed down their huts.
The fire reportedly began on Friday last week from a sugarcane plantation in Atiak sugar factory but escalated on Sunday before spreading to the army detach.
The army detach strategically situated at the Uganda-South Sudan border offers security along international frontier and at the sugarcane plantation belonging to Horyal Investments Holding Company Limited.
Security personnel on Monday revealed that a total of 14 grass thatched huts belonging to the soldiers and undisclosed properties were burnt down in the blaze.
Amuru Resident District Commissioner Osborn Oceng confirmed to Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Monday that some structures at the military detach were consumed by the fire.
Oceng however faults the management of Atiak sugar factory for their reluctance to ensure that fire breaks are created to ease fighting of the fire by the police.
He notes that the persistent outbreak of fire at the plantation over the years continues to cost the government billions of shillings in losses in their Private-Public Partnership with Horyal Investment Holding Company Ltd.
The government owns a 40 percent share in the Atiak sugar factory with the rest of the 60 percent belonging to business mogul Amina Hersi Moghe and her son, Mohamoud Abdi Mohammed.
Oceng also notes that there was a deliberate attempt by the sugar factory management to hide the magnitude of the damage caused by the fire that has been raging since December 10.
He notes that almost a quarter of the sugarcane plantation has since been razed down, adding that close to half of the plantation may be down by end of Monday if the fire wasn’t put out.
The Fourth Division Commander Brig Bonny Bamwiseki however downplayed the fire incident on the military detach saying it could be an “old and abandoned detach”.
“Maybe those (detaches) are the ones that were abandoned because we don’t have permanent detaches. Most of the time, they (UPDF soldiers) just go, stay there and move away” says Brig. Bamwiseki.
The Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson David Ongom Mudong on Monday said the police had opened inquiries under SD ref: 15/12/12/2021 at Atiak Police Station to investigate the cause of the inferno.