MRDC GUIDES TRIBAL FIGHT RAVAGED SUGU VALLEY ON THE ROAD TO LASTING PEACE

Minerals Resources Development Company’s subsidiary firm the Petroleum Resources Kutubu (PRK) exhibited its support for lasting peace in Sugu Valley in the Southern Highlands with the delivery of two Lucas Sawmill in front of a packed crowd at Mambore field in the troubled valley during Valentine’s weekend.

The Lucas Sawmills was brought to Sugu at a cost of K200, 000. The people warmly welcomed dignitaries and appreciatively received the machines. The Walame, Kambea and Rombolo mountain ranges that protectively surrounds Sugu Valley provides timber in abundance which will be harvested to rebuild homes, schools, health centers and other government infrastructure that was burnt down in the fight. Churches played a crucial role in fostering peace and as a token of gratitude MRDC Managing Director Augustine Mano presented K10, 000 for school fess for the 15 Sugu students studying in Bible colleges in the Western Highlands. Mr. Mano and local Kagua Erave leader Augustine Rapa also gave K10, 000 each for the Lucas Sawmill’s fuel and its operations.

Mr. Mano expressed his gratitude to the people of Sugu for upholding peace along the Southern Highlands – Gulf Highway which is still under construction. He also stressed on Sugu’s geographical importance and the economic potential which can only be realized in peace time.

“Once the missing link of Southern Highlands – Gulf Highway is connected and the roads are sealed, it will take two to three hours to reach the proposed international wharf in Gulf from Sugu. The National government is doing everything to connect that road.

“Sugu must corporate and let these projects go ahead because time waits for no man. These opportunities come once in a while; maintain peace or miss out,’’ said Mr. Mano whose home district of Erave was cut off during the tribal fights.

In February of 2019, eight of the nine ‘brother’ villages that make up the isolated but now strategically located Sugu Valley descended into total war. The root cause was tied to a string of unsolved issues that had conceived mistrust and suspicion over a period of ten years. They were minor skirmishes, destruction, and deaths in the Valley in previous years but in 2019 all hell broke loose. Decapitated to mutilated corpses from the Sugu conflict horrendously made rounds on social media sites.

The almost unknown Sugu Valley became notorious overnight with a casualty toll of 37 dead, many more wounded and whole villages destroyed. Responding quickly, leaders of Sugu, Kagua – Erave and Southern Highlands banded together to put an end to the four-month-old deadly conflict in the valley.

In December 2019 a cease fire was reached and peace treaty concluded thereafter in early 2020. In an emotional reconciliation, the villages of Ronga 1 and 2, Yango 1 and 2, Raku 2 and Aka who call themselves the ‘Six in One’ and the Katiloma, Raku 1 and Sumbura group known as the ‘Three in One’ promised to never take up arms again.

Some of the only buildings with metal roofing that was left standing in the wake of the devastation is the Catholic Church run Roteanda Primary School, home of Provincial Deputy Governor Andrew Kenoa. A young leader himself, Kenoa pleaded with the young men of Sugu who carries out most of the fighting to reform themselves and be good citizens.

“Let’s go to school, go to church and go back to the land to sustain our lives but if you want to start trouble again here, you will be arrested,’’ said the Mr. Kenoa In front of a very supportive crowd at the ceremony.

To guide the peace process and oversee rebuilding of the valley, a new entity the Sugu Restoration Foundation Inc was formed. The foundation is responsible for managing the brand-new Lucas Sawmills. Influential Sugu leaders Dickson Tasi and Magistrate Marcus Nandape were elected Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively.

Speaking at the ceremony Dickson Tasi said that “we will no longer be called East and West Sugu or either the ‘Three in One and ‘Six in One’, but only Sugu One.”

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