Many people have heard about it several other have passed by it but very few have visited it whether voluntarily or otherwise. I sought to find out what really goes on behind the high walls and huge gates of Uganda premier prisons; Luzira maximum security prisons.
There is one main route to the prisons over land and another on L. Victoria. Luzira maximum security prisons is located in Nakawa division of Kampala and is bordered to north by Luzira trading center, to the east by the Uganda breweries, south by L. Victoria and to the west by Muyenga. It takes about 15 minutes to drive to Luzira maximum security prisons from the city center. Depending on the time, it may set you back Shs500 to Shs1,500 to travel to Luzira from the city center. To get into the prisons you must have a proper reason why you’re visiting, that is if you’re not a guest of the state and a valid identity card, a thorough body search is done before you’re allowed in.
Once inside of this “small town” which some people call the University of understanding or the beach one is struck by the cleanliness of the place, dead silence, and pot hole free murrum roads. Am headed for a visit of a family friend who was born and bred at this holding facility where his father has been working since the late 70’s.
Luzira prisons is a “United Nations” of sorts with all Ugandan tribes represented and living in harmony despite the diverse cultures. Gerald Odongo my host says if ones parents are not strict a child may grow up speaking a different dialect, since they are exposed to various people who may be speaking a different dialect from his/her mother tongue.
Odongo says you may access the facility at any of the four main gates during the day but at night, though it may be easy to get out, entering is very difficult due to the tight security.
Usually those who go partying stay the night wherever they go. But those who don’t go out of the facility for entertainment are catered for as there regular variety shows at the barracks. Local brew (Ajono, kwete and waragi) is not allowed to be brewed or sold in the barracks. Odongo says this is after cases of domestic violence went up; however bottled beer and other forms of packed alcohol is allowed to be sold in the small shops dotted around the barracks.
On the flip side cases of domestic violence, teenage affairs, elopements, cross generation sex and promiscuity are common. In a bid to put this under check Luzira prisons also has a well knitted LCS system, who usually handle simple matters. At the helm is the OC barracks who acts like a mayor of sorts although his appointed by the commissioner General of prisons. His main duties are to ensure the barracks is clean, there is harmony, there is running water and electricity.
Odongo says he has lived all his life here and there is no other place in the world that he knows better than Luzira prisons. He says the barracks is divided into three parts; junior quarters for the non commission officers, intermediate for commissioned officers and senior quarters for senior officers. Most non commissioned officers live in uniport, while the commissioned officers reside in two bed roomed houses; the senior officers live in four bed roomed houses with boy’s quarters. However due to time factor most of these building would do with a fresh coat of paint.
In Luzira, the Lord is highly regarded and there churches for the Catholics and Protestants, Muslims are also not forgotten as there is a mosque to cater for them. For sports there two foot ball pitches, a basket ball court, lawn tennis court, valley pitch and several other open fields for out down sports activities.
Schools are also available Odongo says he started out at Murchison Bay staff nursery school before graduating to the Murchison Bay primary school the only two public schools at the holding facility.