Operation Shujaa: UPDF face infrastructure hurdles in Ituri, Eastern DR Congo

Locals from Ituri province stuck with good along the road from Luna to Ndalya in eastern DR Congo on November 29. PHOTO/ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • On November 30, the UPDF and FARDC marked two years of operation Shujaa in eastern DR Congo.

UPDF officials currently engaged in Operation Shujaa in Eastern DR Congo, specifically in the newly established sector four under phase four of the operation have raised concerns about the inadequate infrastructure in the region.

The poor roads pose accessibility challenges in their operational efforts to track down ADF rebels in the jungles of eastern DR Congo.

Maj Gen Dick Olum, the commander of Operation Shujaa and the Mountain Division, acknowledged the success achieved in the operation over the last two years during the first three phases of operation but said their activities in the new sector four, located in Ituri province, are being hampered by poor road network, restricting their movements.

The ongoing operation in phase four within sector four has been underway for approximately a month.

Maj Gen Olum highlighted the challenges they face in transporting logistics to troops stationed in various locations across a road stretch exceeding 75 kilometers from Luna to Komado under the new sector.

When Monitor visited Ituri Province, Maj Gen Olum said, "I am not a road construction expert, but now I am using my soldiers with our equipment to patch the roads here such that we can be able to supply food and other logistics to our soldiers. The roads are in a sorry state and no vehicle can pass."

He added that there are limited road unit equipment available for basic roadworks, requiring additional resources from the commander of the Chief of Defense Forces to facilitate more effective operations.

In sector four, under the leadership of Lt Col Ruziro Nuwagaba currently stationed at Luna, which is approximately 40 kilometers from Beni town, the road from Luna to Komado is in a dismal state of over 75 kilometers.

This has made it nearly impassable for vehicles, primarily due to frequent ADF rebel attacks for local people and troops. 

In the meantime, Maj Gen Olum have resorted to using aircrafts to supply essential resources to two UPDF battalions stationed ahead of Ndalya.

The approximately 75-kilometer stretch of road from Luna to Komando has been abandoned due to frequent ADF rebel attacks in the area which has rendered the road impassable for any truck or commercial vehicle, with only a few people daring to use it during daylight hours as they return to their homes.

This challenging situation extends across areas such as Luna, Katabe, Ndalya, Ndimo, Watabe, and Kamando, continuing to Bunia. 

"After establishing sector four, we embarked on patching the road at different spots, optimistic that the local population would eventually return and resume using the road to return to their homes," Maj Gen Olum said.

In addressing the ADF rebel threat, Maj Gen Olum said, "ADF rebels, after being defeated in other sectors, returned to Ituri province, and it's where we are now going to defeat them because they don't have any capacity."

He acknowledged the recent ADF rebel attacks in Uganda's Kasese district, including the tragic incident in Mpondwe Lhubuiriha Secondary School and the killing of tourists.

Maj Gen Olum added, "We have to continue [pursuing the ADF]." 

On November 30, the UPDF and FARDC marked two years of operation Shujaa in eastern DR Congo.