Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | It was a chaotic evening yesterday as police moved to close Police Posts in Lubaga division in Kampala as a way of implementing President Yoweri Museveni’s 2019 directive of concentrating police officers at sub-county level.
Following the recent attacks on Police Posts in areas of Mityana, Luweero, Kiboga, Nakaseke, and Wakiso, the crime intelligence directorate headed by Brig Gen Chris Damulira, which has been taking lead in investigating such attacks has established that thugs have been successful because of fewer personnel numbers at the posts.
In response to crime intelligence findings, the Inspector General of Police, Martin Ochola, has indicated that it is time for the President’s (3-year-old) directive to be implemented in order to minimize attacks on police officers at isolated at Police Posts.
But also police leadership says shifting all police officers to sub-countries will increase numbers and have better equipment to respond in case of attacks or any other security emergency. In Kampala metropolitan that covers the City, Wakiso and Mukono districts, police target to close over 100 Police Posts and Booths.
The closure of Police Posts started in Lubaga on Friday where posts like Nalukolongo, Kitebi, Munaku, and Kabawo were closed. However, local leaders and residents protested the move saying it is will expose them to attacks by thugs.
“We have been having some peace in Nalukolongo because of these posts,” Deo Kivumbi said. “Criminals that used to attack women going to markets had reduced. People have been able to wake up very early and go to work even though sometimes they face attacks by thugs. Now without any of these posts, we are going to be killed by thugs. Nateete police cannot respond in time to these criminals.”
But police officers packed their bags and took them to Nateete police station despite the locals protesting and begging them to stay. The situation was not different in Kisenyi where locals demanded Old Kampala Division Police Commander –DPC SP Tyson Rutambiika to first explain to them why police posts were being taken away even though he was not present.
“Every criminal lives in Kisenyi here,” resident Emma Kitamirike said. “We have drug addicts, rapists and robbers in this area. This place always get very many unknown people but it is this police post that has been ensuring that there is peace in this area.”
Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, said locals need not worry because police officers being removed from posts will be deployed for day and night foot and motorized patrols.
Similarly, Fred Enanga, the national police spokesperson, said the proposed sub-county policing model will ensure effective policing policy, of the urban and rural areas of the community. He elaborated that the model is premised on the need to enhance police visibility, automation of policing services through advanced technology, consolidation of the available resources and assets at the sub-county.
“In addition, the key aspects of the model would involve the establishment of at least one police station per sub-county, deployment of not less than 20 personnel, deployment of motorcycle squads, installation of counter phones that are popularized among residents, dedicated counter response teams, critical facilities, modern lockup facilities, better accommodation and medical services,” Enanga said.
The closure of police posts has already been witnessed in areas of Mityana and Luweero. Police say even other districts will have their Posts closed and all personnel shifted to sub-counties before the end of next week.
Enanga said there was a study done in response to Museveni’s directive on the sub-county policing model and it would have been implemented about two years back but the arrangements were affected by Covid19 pandemic.
“The UPF is now piloting the practicability of the model in selected areas within the Kampala Metropolitan Policing area and in the Central Regions of Savanah, Katonga, Ssezibwa and Wamala. Its success will lead to its full scale implementation plan to cover all 2,624 sub-counties in the country,” Enanga said.
If police is to ensure that each of the 2,624 sub-counties is equipped with at least 20 police officers, it means it will need 52,480 personnel which is its current total personnel. It means every police officer regardless of rank will be deployed at one of the sub-counties.
Many of the police booths had two to three police officers while several Police Posts have not been having more than six personnel. This, according to police, has been giving advantage to criminals who often raid such posts in about seven to 10-strong gangs armed with machetes or sometimes guns.
In such scenarios, the four police officers at a Post would be vulnerable because they would unable to match the attacks. The closure of Police posts comes four days after armed thugs attacked Busiika Police station in Luweero district and killed two police officers while two others were left injured in a critical condition.
Police say they are going to increase technology-based policing since Closed Circuit Television –CCTV cameras have been erected in many urban areas. Highways too and major towns are already being monitored at the National CCTV Command Centre at Naguru.