“Army didn’t dig Ngora tunnels”

A man inside the tunnels

Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has denied knowledge of the mysterious underground tunnels discovered in Ngora district that have triggered anxiety among locals.

The tunnels were discovered about three weeks ago at the home of George Odeke whose had commissioned the digging of a pit latrine in his compound, and have since have turned into a tourist attraction as hundreds of people flock to the area to see them.

George Odeke, a resident of Kokong village in Kapir sub-county discovered the tunnels while digging a pit latrine in his home about three weeks ago. The existence of the mysterious tunnels was exposed through social media on Sunday evening.

Several people claimed that the tunnels could have been used by security or thugs for mischievous activities in the district.

After the news of the underground tunnels went viral especially on social media, the 3rd Division Intelligence Chief, Lt. Col. Ephraim Byaruhanga and his team visited Kokong village on Tuesday to get firsthand information.

Shortly after visiting the area, Byaruhanga told our reporter on the phone that Kokong tunnels are a natural phenomenon and not associated with UPDF movements or other military activities.

His findings are similar to the claims made by police on Monday that the tunnels are merely caves formed underground and not related to any road works as claimed by the community.

“Preliminary findings show that the alleged road is actually a system of underground caves though the community is now alluding to all kinds of supernatural inferences, which is not true,” said Oscar Gregg Ageca, the East Kyoga regional police spokesman.

Margaret Awekonimungu, the Ngora district environment officer said that the linkage of the tunnels to a natural occurrence can only be explained by geologists.

By Tuesday evening, no geologist had visited the area. When contacted, Dr. Tom Okurut, the executive director of the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), said that the Ngora tunnel discovery is a new occurrence that his team will explain after visiting the site.

“We are getting clearance from relevant authorities to enable the team to visit the site. Once that is done, we shall be in Ngora and the geologists will explain what could have happened underground,” Okurut said in a phone interview.

Mike Odongo L’Asio, the Ngora district chairperson says that his consultations with some elders in Ngora indicate that the area was once a swamp linking to Awoja water catchment. He notes that the tunnels could be a result of earth formation, which remains a mystery until the geologists explain.

At Odeke’s home, more people continue to visit and descend into the pit to witness what’s underground. The family is now worried about their safety especially from COVID-19 infections since people are crowding their home some without masks.

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