Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has announced plans to accredit all public event organizers in the country to ensure health and safety standards at events.
The standards, developed in 2011 and known as US 929:2011, focus on the quality of materials and equipment used at events, as well as providing a safer environment for participants and the venue of the event.
John Paul Musimami, the UNBS Deputy Executive Director, stated that although the standards have been around for a long time, they have not been put into practice by most event organizers, which has even cost lives.
Musimami also noted that several of the lighting and sound systems used in many events are substandard, and the general sanitation and flexible movement of attendees are often lacking, despite being streamlined in the standards.
The standards are compulsory, according to Musimami, and the bureau will work with the police to enforce them. “Going forward, we are going to work with the police to ensure that only certified event organizers are involved in the business. We are going to harmonize our requirements with the granting of permission to these events by the police,” he said.
Safina Namugga, the head of services and business management standards development at UNBS, said that the accreditation certificate costs 1.5 million Shillings and expires after three years. It will be reviewed annually, and in case of a breach, it can be revoked immediately.
However, some event organizers complained that the accreditation fee was too high and that many of them cannot afford it. They also argued that implementing some of these standards is very expensive and will increase the cost of events. Fred Zanja, an event organizer, asked for more time to organize themselves.
Ashraf Chemonges, the commander of the alert squad in the Uganda Police Force, stated that the police are mandated to ensure the safety of the public. Once UNBS approaches them with these standards, they have to make sure they are followed for the safety of the public.
Chemonges also addressed the issue of police commanders overcharging event organizers for security services. He stated that he will report the matter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure that fees are standardized in accordance with the law.
He explained that there is a safari day allowance of 11,000 Ugandan Shillings as per public service standing orders, as well as a night allowance based on rank. “Additionally, there is money designated by public service for events outside of Kampala,” he said.