Home Feature Ordeal: How Tour Operator Lost Shs 5Million in Highway Robbery

Ordeal: How Tour Operator Lost Shs 5Million in Highway Robbery

Bruce Rushajju lost Shs5m in highway Robbery Courtsey photo

“Waking up as early as 4:00 am is a part of the routines that lead me through all journeys of the day. As a tour operator, it’s mandatory for me to get up early, check emails, and communicate with a few people. The day I sent you various WhatsApp messages is when I actually thought it wise to share my story specifically with you so that fellow Ugandans who are electronic media friendly would pick a leaf and learn from my experience,” narrated Bruce Rushajju who I had asked on why he insisted seeing me in person rather than a fellow Colleague Despite telling him of my weekly busy schedule.

Meeting besides Dewinton road, Rushaju’s facial expression seemed the June robbery incident wounds were still new and fresh in his mind, I saw it necessary to further give his story a detailed listening.

Walking through the National Theatre Gate to find an ample conversation space, a roadside obstacle clinched on Rushaju’s pair of trousers and while he bend to plug it off, a bruised scar on his back caught my eyes to which I further sought to know from him how it came about.

“Though now in final healing, it’s the injury I got while I stupidly resisted being robbed, was stroked with a metallic wire before I let the bag go”

By the time he finished narrating the emotional triggering incident, we had found a sitting place from which I asked him to further narrate the scenario more descriptively.

“It’s always my common practice by the nature of my job to travel in the night when duty calls, but unfortunately the day I was robbed I wasn’t lucky enough, said Rushaju.

Rushaju who operates Gorillas and Beyond Safaris, a travel and tour firm recounts that on one of the nights of June this year, he packed his motor vehicle at a filling station so that he would get home faster on a Boda Boda, change clothes to go pick a group of tourists at the Airport.

He narrates that along the way, they found a group of robbers that had rounded up several people after blocking the road using a big log of wood.

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Some of the men were holding iron bars and machetes and to my surprise, they were in the stewardship of two armed men dressed in UPDF-like uniforms though they pretended to be standing at a distance.

“As we were almost reaching them, I sensed danger and prayed a short prayer, before I finished the prayer, they ordered the boda guy not to either panic or make an alarm or else he would risk being killed, from what they told the Boda guy I cooled down,” he narrates adding “I was however, tempted to fight back as they tried searching my back which had money and belongings”

Jokingly, as I told him to be thankful to God for having used a boda boda that saved his car, Rushajju in laughter said “so a cyclist’s motorcycle was worth being robbed!”

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He explains that he lost over Shillings 5 million, mobile phones, and other documents to the thugs who also immediately went behind their vehicle and started sharing the robbed amount.

Rushaju however, justifies that it’s after he went to report the case to the police the following day that he learned that the robbers were targeting him as according to other victims with whom he was robbed, the robbers kept telling them to relax and that they wouldn’t harm them because they were waiting for someone to arrive.

“I went to Bujuuko police station the following day and reported a case under reference number SD 08/25/06/2022. I found there several other people who had also been rounded up by the same group.”

Meanwhile, Rushaju’s ordeal is not the only one but rather an additional one to an upswing of several other local road robberies reported in the past couple of weeks.

Similar cases have been reported along Kasangati-Matugga road alias Nangabo road, The incidents that have also made users prone to losing lives have reportedly been common in also outskirts of Bujuuko among other places.

The robbers reportedly use wires and at times big wood logs that they tie and put across the road to intercept the victims and rob them.

Also recently, was the murder of the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for Bukwo District who was traveling to Lira from Kampala at night. Along the way, he fell into what seemed to be a roadblock mounted by armed robbers attired in military fatigues and got killed.

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Until police made some revelations about it, the death of the CAO had been treated as one of the cases of high robberies. The police, however, said they are not treating the CAO’s case as that of highway robbery but a clean and clear case of murder (premeditated and aforethought).

Ismail Matovu, a Kasangati town council Resident said that the robbers use the Kasangati-Matugga road because it connects to different places and has no CCTV road Cameras.

Asked how best the criminal rackets can be halted, Matovu and Rushaju mutually recommended that the president must intensify operations with joint peace-keeping bodies like Police, CMI as well as the Flying squad.

To take you back in time, a similar armed robbery was at its peak in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Government came up with an emergency security unit to curb the sweeping wave of crime in the country.

Formed in 2002, Operation Wembley which was later renamed the Violent Crime Crack Unit (VCCU), now the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), which helped wipe out robbers countrywide. Although it was widely criticized by human rights organizations for its ‘shoot to kill’ mode of operation. According to Rushaju, operations of the kind should be re-enforced.

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