KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Uganda People’s Defence Forces-UPDF First Division has scoffed at those questioning the now full-time day and night presence of military personnel on Kampala streets and its suburbs.
Maj Charles Kabona, the spokesperson UPDF First Division responsible for all soldiers within Kampala Metropolitan Area, says people should not expect that the military will leave the streets soon.
The day and night presence of soldiers, according to Maj Kabona, is intended to prevent looming anarchy. Maj Kabona explains that for them as security operatives they are aware of the impending security threats.
Kabona said citizens should be proud because the presence of the army on streets and other outskirts has seen crime incidents such as machete attacks, factory and business robberies reduce in many areas.
“Why are people not asking that these days when we deployed our forces there is sanity in Kampala?” Maj Kabona said. “When there were Bijambiya (machete attacks), there was a public outcry. The absence of anarchy does not mean there is no threat. They should not mind when are we going away. We are here to stay.”
Army presence on Kampala streets increased when Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) embarked on a smart city enforcement program that saw street vendors evicted. Nowadays, soldiers are seen conducting operations that were previously being done by KCCA law enforcers or Field Force Unit (FFU) personel attached to KCCA
It is now rare to see a KCCA pick up without soldiers patrolling the city streets. In other areas, soldiers have increasingly been deployed to guard factories, warehouses and industrial areas, work that was previously done by police. Also, police patrols now spot soldiers, just like the top management of the Uganda Police Force.
Maj Kabona said once someone expresses that presence of police is not enough for his business, soldiers will come to reinforce. He adds that soldiers deployment is the reason robberies in industrial parks and other business centres have tremendously gone down.
“If these investors are not protected and their companies are attacked or robbed, you know the consequences on the economy of the country,” Maj Kabona said. “Therefore, it is within our mandate that we protect those industrial parks and business centres, and we come in to reinforce the police because its presence is not enough on the ground.”
Assistant Superintendent of Police-ASP Luke Owoyesigyire, said soldiers have dealt with armed thugs terrorizing Kampala. Owoyesigyire cites an example of a fish processing plant in Kyebando where a soldier on Sunday night repulsed five thugs armed with a gun and machetes.
One of the suspects called John Opiyo was shot in the buttocks and arrested. Security agencies are now hunting for his accomplices. Owoyesigyire adds that criminals are rampant and it needs concerted efforts by all security agencies.
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