On Saturday, a group of over 300 scouts left for Burundi for the Eastern Africa Zonal conference and youth forum.
Mishaps at the start
The delegation, traveling in six hired buses was originally scheduled to set off from Kaazi Camping Grounds in Wakiso district on Friday morning, but they were advised, according to sources, to wait for a security team, which was deployed to accompany the children up to the venue in Gitega, Burundi.
This was before the team was flagged off
Gen. Katumba Wamala handing over some of the items to the scouts
The leaders said they were also advised by security to divert from their original route through Rwanda and instead go via Mutukula border through Tanzania to Burundi.
One of the scouts' leaders, Maggie Kigozi, flagged off the delegation at about 4:00pm on Friday after a long wait, but still the buses could not setoff and instead they were told to stay for a night.
Scouts being prepared for the journey
Richard Kamya, the director resource mobilization at the Uganda Scouts and in-charge of the entire delegation told New Vision that they set off at from Kaazi at about 4:00AM on Saturday and the buses arrived at the Mutukula border at 9:00AM.
Final Instructions: Scouts get ready for the journey
One bus with students arrived earlier on Friday at about 9:00PM and the children slept at the border since they were told to wait for their colleagues to move in a convoy.
Delegation blocked at border for over 10 hours
The delegation was held at the Mutukula border post for over 10 hours over security concerns.
DESPERATE AND HOPELESS: The scouts at the border
According to Kamya, the Tanzanian authorities insisted that due to the security situation in Burundi, they demanded that they provide their own security.
They also asked to register all the security operatives from Uganda and clear their weapons before they allow the delegation to proceed, which lasted for hours.
Ntare School scouts move on…. how?
But the scouts from Ntare School, according to Kamaya, arrived earlier and were allowed to proceed ahead without security accompanying them, and were able to arrive at the camping site in time.
The delegation, which includes students from both primary and secondary schools from various regions, including Central, North, East and Southern Uganda travelled in six buses.
Allowed to proceed
The buses finally set off from the border at 7:00pm on Saturday and decided to travel at night. Tanzania lead security takes them through a shorter route and they get stuck in the murram road.
Buses stuck in the mud
Three out of the six buses got stuck in a forest reserve at night and had to use scouts and trailers to pull them back. The team finally reached Kobero at the Tanzania-Burundi border at about 10:00am, but they were not allowed to proceed up to 6:00pm, spending over eight hours at the border as security negotiated for permission to proceed.
Kamya said he was all along in contact with authorities at the border, but the delay came after the Tanzania government delayed to clear the armed security personnel who were included on the team to give the children protection up to the camping site in Gitega, Burundi.
Frantic efforts to get the buses out of mud
Politics bring its dirty nose in the journey
Kamya says due to security concerns and existing disagreements between Rwanda and Burundi, the Uganda delegation was advised to instead go through Tanzania instead of Rwanda.
However, issues came after officials at the Tanzanian border learnt that there were armed security personnel accompanying the children.
He said although they had communicated to their bosses in Kampala, who gave a go ahead, the Tanzanian authorities insisted that they needed to provide the delegation with a lead car and enough security up to the border with Burundi.
The event was scheduled to kick off on Sunday, but according to Kamya the competitors were supposed to set themselves before the event kicked off.
He complained that the scouts had been inconvenienced and the children have been stranded at the border with no food and many were hungry.
Kamaya explained that he was in touch with the chief commissioner, Gen. Katumba, who had advised the delegation to call off the trip and return to Uganda, but the schools asked to continue waiting
Patrick Barugahare, chairman Uganda Scouts Association, deputy chief commissioner, Stephen Basungwire were on the team.