"River Katonga offered us the best natural barrier and the Katonga bridge was a godsend to us, the defenders of the territory under our jurisdiction-It was the 1st Battalion under Fred Mugisha as my second-in-command and myself which had blocked the bridge," Kutesa.
NRA REBELS FIGHTING KATONGA
On this day in Uganda’s history; October 13, 1985, the Government troops and NRA rebels encountered each other in a battle at the strategic bridge over the Katonga River.
Several government units fell into a rebel ambush and the Defence Minister Brigadier Gad Toko announced the next day that the government would not engage in any further peace talks until the NRA begins observing the cease-fire agreement reached in Nairobi.
Maj. Gen Pecos Kutesa in his book ‘Uganda’s Revolution, 1979-1986; How I saw it’ writes;
The Katonga Bridge
In order to effectively control the area under NRA/NRM and in order to deny enemy reinforcements for the Mbarara and Masaka garrisons, we had to control all the access routes from Kampala to south-western Uganda.
River Katonga offered us the best natural barrier and the Katonga bridge was a godsend to us, the defenders of the territory under our jurisdiction. It was the 1st Battalion under Fred Mugisha as my second-in-command and myself which had blocked the bridge. The 5th Battalion under Stephen Kashaka and Ahmed Kashillingi were told to man the southern side of the road.
As I had already intimated, the bridge which I had earlier reconnoitred reminded me of the Kalongero bridge of Luweero Triangle. We immediately set up a position a few metres from Lukaya town and moved onto the bridge where we dug in our defences.
Effectively, we had cut off Masaka and the whole of southern Uganda from Kampala. This was a very provocative action on the part of the NRA/NRM. The Okello junta could not stomach such an insult and so the famous Katonga bridge battles were set in motion.
The Okello troops, with the help of former Uganda Army soldiers, made many attempts to cross that bridge. It offered us a good killing ground and a tantalising objective on the part of the enemy.
Apart from Commander Salim Saleh, I was the next most senior officer in the Masaka siege and the Katanga bridge buffer zone. The Masaka battles were enjoyable because we did not incur many casualties and the people were very supportive. We also had access to many facilities that we had never had for a long time in the bush.
Pecos Kutesa, ‘Uganda’s Revolution, 1979-1986; How I saw it’