RUBAVU — The government has plans to construct a modern base for marine soldiers in Karongi district, Col. Philmon Bayingana, the Head of the Marine Regiment in Rubavu district has said.
Bayingana said this on May 5 shortly after receiving members of the Senatorial Committee on Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Security who had visited the Rubavu-based marine barracks. The visit was aimed at assessing the soldiers’ activities, future plans and the general welfare of its personnel.
"Although we are still faced by various hindrances such as lack of enough space and buildings, the barracks has done everything possible to provide security to Rwandans from any attacks through Lake Kivu," Bayingana said.
He explained that once completed, the new barracks will help to provide security to a wider area of the entire Northern Province, unlike currently where the marine’s activities are limited to the Western Province and DRC- Rwandan Lake Kivu boundaries.
Bayingana narrated to the visiting law makers the history and inception of the marines in Rwanda, their duty, activities, and what is currently done to improve their services. He said there are plans to increase the number of soldiers, equipment and various training to the marines.
The MPs viewed various combat equipment used by the soldiers including engine boats. After touring the area, Senator Valens Munyabagisha, president of the commission thanked the commanders for their services. He said the commission would present their demands to parliament.
"We are impressed by their activities. They however still face challenges such as lack of enough land and buildings for the expansion of the barracks and insufficient salaries" Munyabagisha said.
"Although the salary issue is not a case you can fix in a very short time, the government will try to help the military through other schemes such as strengthening Zigama SSS [army cooperative bank] which is meant to provide financial support to the soldiers," he said.
Rubavu Marine Barracks was set up in March 1995 to fight against the FDRL and the Interahamwe’s infiltrators that used to attack Rwanda using Islands in DRC as their bases. Col. Bayingana explained that their forces secured Iwawa Island on which they operate after fighting insurgents from DRC in 1996.