African peacekeepers in Somalia have handed over responsibilities in Marianguwaay, in the Lower Shabelle region to Somali Security Forces after it made progress in the war against Al-Shabaab.
The region still remains a stronghold of the militants.
The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) announced on June 20 that it has moved its Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Marianguwaay that was in the hands of the Ugandan contingent since 2014.
Uganda Contingent Commander, Brig Gen Don Nabasa said the relocation is part of a harmonised joint operations plan laid out in April by Amisom and the Somali National Army (SNA) to enable Somali Security Forces to assume security responsibilities ahead of Amisom’s exit.
“The recently concluded sector commanders conference guided by Amisom Concept of Operations harmonised several tasks for execution by Sector I, which included the relocation of troops from Marianguwaay Forward operating Base to another area to beef up security. This will enhance operational efficiency as we pursue the AMISOM mandate,” said Brig Gen Nabasa.
Ahead of the relocation, Amisom troops conducted a clean-up that involved removing structures and levelling the ground to restore the environment in line with Amisom’s environmental standard operating procedures.
Amisom set up the Marianguwaay FOB in October 2014 to ease the movement of troops between the port cities of Marka and Barawe. Following the relocation, the FOB is now closed and the land ownership has reverted to the government.
The Governor of Lower Shabelle, Abdikadir Murshid Sidi, said that Amisom joint operations with SNA had weakened the insurgents in the region, making it necessary for Somali Security Forces to take over security responsibilities.
“Amisom has helped us reach great milestones. The transfer of security responsibilities from Amisom to Somali Security Forces is as a result of efforts and sacrifices made by our African brothers in the fight against terrorist group Al-Shabaab. Marianguwaay has been one of the most peaceful areas,” Mr Sidi said.
As part of the relocation process, Mr Sidi, the local leaders and other Amisom officers in attendance inspected the area and signed documents to hand over the community land on which the FOB operated. They also signed an environmental clearance certificate to certify that the troops did not degrade the environment.
While Amisom has degraded Al-Shabaab capabilities in most of the urban areas, including Mogadishu, Lower Shabelle has been a major challenge to the African peacekeepers due to its rural nature and the difficult terrains that the militants have been taking advantage of.