By Rogers Muhirwa
Force to tackle accommodation, budget, and low numbers as it marks 100 years plus
The Uganda Police Force (UPF) is one of the institutions under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It was created by Article 21 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and regulated by the Police Act. Section 8 of Police Act provides establishment and composition of the Police Authority which is chaired by the Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs and Permanent Secretary/Internal Affairs as its Secretary.
The main function of the Police Authority is to advise the government on policy matters relating to the management, development, and administration of the UPF.
Like elsewhere in the Public Service, not all is rosy for Uganda Police.
The first challenge in the UPF is the in-adequacy of the human resource which currently stands at 38,600 personnel and gives a police to population ratio of 1:907 instead of UN standard of 1:500.
The second major challenge is the inadequate budget funding. The minimum ideal budget the UPF requires for policing is Shs615 billion compared to the allocation of Shs412 billions. This means only 67% of the budget is funded, leaving a shortfall of Shs203 billion or 33%.
Fortunately, over the last 10 years, the UPF budget has been growing. However, the funding is still at a low rate compared to the policing challenges and police strength. Over this period, police personnel resource has expanded from 19,565 in 2004/05 to 38,600 in 2014/15. This can be seen from the attached table.
One of the effects of this has been inadequate accommodation infrastructure. The UPF has been lacking accommodation over the years. Currently, Police is only housing 24% of the entitled staff (PCs-IP) and this percentage is reducing as we recruit more personnel as show in the table attached.
Faced with these challenges, the UPF has and is planning a head to tackle them.
First of all, the UPF secured a cabinet approval to recruit annually 3500 personnel (3,000 PPCs and 500 cadets). This will lead UPF to reducing the policing ratio gap towards UN standard of 1:500.
Secondly, in a bid to reduce the shortage of accommodation and improve personnel welfare, UPF has adopted three strategies:
Internal capacity building.
This comprises the capitalization of the engineering unit to construct the accommodation building. So far, the UPF has recruited engineers and technicians, procured 20 hydra-foam machines, four trucks and other light construction equipment. The UPF has been able to build new 12 Police stations and seven accommodation blocks within three years.
Public Private Partnership (PPP)
Under PPP arrangement, it is envisaged that the private sector designs, finances, builds, and maintains. The PPP process is a powerful tool which, due to the nature and size of the project, will maximize the benefits for the growing the Ugandan economy as it introduces private sector capital and private sector practices and efficiencies, while promoting competitive markets, and facilitating innovation. In so doing it will offer the UPF a solution which offers value for money and solves the accommodation shortage.
The UPF is at the negotiations stage with successful bidders and soon the project will start in Kampala Metropolitan. Through PPP, police will be able to construct over 8,000 barracks units, Police Headquarters, three KMP Regional stations, 11 KMP Divisional Police stations, 10 KMP stations and a Training Academy at Kabalye, Masindi.
To manage such procurements, the UPF, as a law and order enforcement agency, follows the legal framework established by Government in managing its procurement processes. Part III of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act provides for the creation of an independent Contracts Committee.
The Police Contracts Committee has five members at senior level and all are appointed by the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to the Treasury. The committee sits once every week to handle Police procurement requirements.
The committee conducts business as per the code of ethical conduct and most UPF procurement requirements are procured through Open domestic/international bidding, restricted bidding, Quotation and proposals and Direct Procurement. A few items are procured under classified process. The Public Procurement Authority carries out a procurement audit annually and UPF is and has always been found complaint to the Procurement Regulations.
Production, Duty free shops and SACCOs.
This strategy was to develop the welfare and production unit. The UPF has started three agricultural farms namely; PTS Kabalye, Ikafe in Yumbe and Olilim in Katakwi.
The government approved provision of construction items; cement and iron sheets, under a duty free shops arrangement. Discussions are on-going to increase the number of duty free items covering all basic home necessities.
A UPF SACCO was started three years ago and has built a financial capital base of about Shs5 billion. It is currently giving cheap loans to its members; especially on welfare projects. With the above innovative strategies, UPF is destined to improve the welfare of its members as per the Uganda Vision 2040.
Rogers Muhairwe is the Under Secretary Uganda Police Force