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Gulu 'Night Commuter' Centres Neglected :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Gulu 'Night Commuter' Centres Neglected

A decade after guns fell silent, the district has largely neglected several buildings that sheltered thousands of children and adults who trekked to town every evening for security thus earning themselves the name Night Commuters.
The annexure at Gulu bus park that sheltered night commuter during the height of the LRA conflict in northern Uganda

Audio 2

Gulu district is determined to forget the ruins of Lord's Resistance Army –LRA conflict by neglecting shelters that once housed night commuters.

 

A decade after guns fell silent, the district has largely neglected several buildings that sheltered thousands of children and adults who trekked to town every evening for security thus earning themselves the name “Night Commuters.”

Among those neglected is an annex of Gulu Bus Park waiting lobby in Pece Division where religious leaders said prayers for peace and spent cold nights with night commuters.

Behind the lobby, a large long hall with partitions was erected to provide shelter for night commuters from surrounding townships including Palenga. Today, two partitions have been converted into an eating house and a church respectively.

John Balson Onen, the Gulu bus park area Local Council 1 chairperson, says he does not know the post-conflict master plan for the shelters. He confirmed that hundreds of children were sheltered at the park.

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Thirty-year-old Patrick Okello, a resident of Palenga Township in Bobi Sub County, says he survived LRA abductions by hiding in the bus park shelter every night. He says the shelter reminds him of the worst conflict he endured in his lifetime.

Okello says the shelter should be preserved for future generations.

Also neglected is Noah's Ark, constructed in Green Valley cell in Bar Dege Division. Uganda Radio Network visited the facility, which has been converted into a martial arts training centre, and found its sanitary facilities already demolished.

Stephen Olanya, the Green Valley Local Council 1 chairperson says the centres were constructed by humanitarian workers who intervened in the conflict. He does not know what plans the district had for the shelters after the war.

Other night commuter shelters in Gulu were former Whispers Night Club and Te-Okono in Layibi and Bar Dege Divisions respectively. They were homes to displaced people at the peak of the 20-year LRA insurgency that ended in 2006.

Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu district chairperson was out of office to comment on the story. But failure to gazette the night commuter shelters into special war souvenirs and historical sites contradicts an earlier position to preserve some of the shelters and camp sites as historical sites for memory, future research and tourism.