There is panic in Kokong village, Ngora district in eastern Uganda after residents discovered three underground tunnels. The tunnels were discovered about three weeks ago at the home of George Odeke while digging a pit latrine in his compound.
The tunnels that spread in three different directions were discovered by Justine Okello who was digging a 8.5ft pit. One of the tunnels is approximately 100 meters wide while others are narrower but longer and compacted with murram.
The bigger underground clearance is two metres high from the base in some parts while in other parts it measures between two to four meters high. It has a prolonged channel inside - measuring close to one kilometer. Odeke says he started digging the pit last month before falling sick. He then hired Okello to help him continue with the work but it was shocking to discover a network of tunnels underground.
Odeke explains that he spotted the area for the pit after seeing some murram on the surface since the area has soft soils. He adds that it is the third pit at his home after he successfully dug two other pits; one measuring 12 feet in 2008 and another 15 feet pit in 2010. He, however, notes that all the pits caved in after being in use for some time.
“The first pit latrine sunk down after one year in use while the second pit sunk down soon after it was covered, ready for use. But we didn’t find any tunnels in those two pits. I’m very surprised with what has happened in my compound," he said.
Odeke says he is now living in fear since he doesn’t know who dug the tunnels and for what reason. Okello, the pit excavator says he found very hard murram just at the surface, something he notes was unusual for most parts in the area.
“I almost gave up but my brother encouraged me to continue. As I penetrated through the hard murram, I discovered that the underground was hollow. After removing the soil, I found the tunnels and that scared me from continuing," he said.
Inside, the tunnel is walled with murram but leaking in some parts with some loose soils now falling. The loose soils are blocking another route; its length was not yet determined due to limited accessibility.
Margaret Awekonimungu, the acting district environment officer in Ngora district says she has contacted National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to analyze the ground in order to help explain the existence of the tunnels. Hundreds of people are now flocking Kokong village to check out the tunnels. Police has since condoned off the area over safety concerns.