President Museveni has Wednesday commissioned and toured Nyoka military conversion facility at Magamaga military barracks in Mayuge District.
He thanked the UPDF for the initiative and Impala Company for working with the army in using this mine-resistant technology that had been initiated by the South African white army.
“When in the Bush, we had 100 mines from Libya but we used them to do much damage to the government. By the time we finished the landmines, we had finished the government,” Museveni said.
Landmines had brought down the government of the Portuguese in Mozambique. Samora Machel used to say “the mine was the nuclear bomb of Africa”.
After Nelson Mandela came to power in 1994 in South Africa, Museveni learnt of the vehicles which were in two types; mambas and buffaloes.
“We also later learnt that the company making them was stopping production, which prompted me to direct that we take over the technology.”
He said the good thing about armour is that it will be there for a long time. The only parts that grow old are the moving parts. That is how UPDF developed the overhaul concept, the Nyoka vehicles.
“Ugandans are finally waking up. For an educated population like ours, these things are easy. It is simple physics and chemistry. Now that you are getting out of sleep, the sky is the limit,” Museveni said.
The armoured vehicles are made from steel. “If we can add some alloy from the steel that will be made from the Tororo steel factory, we can make armoured steel.”
He said what is crucial is overcoming the psychological barrier of helplessness.
“This is just the beginning and you can do much more. I want integrated industries from the beginning to the end.”
“The cotton should give us gun powder so that we do not have to import. This creates jobs and saves money. If you can build tank engines, it means you can also build engines of cars.”
Museveni said he was very grateful to the CEO of Impala, Damian de Lange. He was a cadre of the ANC and joined the South African Army but later retired. His partnering with Uganda is ideological.