Contractors supplying food items to the Uganda Police Force have with immediate effect stopped supplies to the force over accumulated arrears.
They are demanding about Shs33 billion from the force for supplying food since 2015. They have also accused the IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura of favouring crime preventers and Exodus SACCO and refusing to pay those who have legitimate contracts with the force.
The suppliers numbering up to 596 members took the decision to stop supplying the force on Tuesday at a general meeting held at Speke Hotel, Kampala.
“We have stopped supply of food stuff to police with immediate effect, starting from now. We are writing a memorandum to the speaker of parliament, we are writing to the minister of internal affairs and all government agencies to ensure that our money is paid,” Mr Badru Kisitu, the chairperson of police suppliers’ association said.
Mr Kisitu said the situation has become horrible.
“We are wondering why we are not paid in time, yet police gets quarterly money like other ministries. It’s only in police that has not paid,” he said.
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“We have supplied beans, rice and posho for all these years and none of us has received money for the supplies made. Where does the police expect us to get money to run our businesses?” he wondered.
He said many contractors are choking on bank loans and are at the verge of losing their property to the banks. Mr Kisitu said crime preventers have been advanced billions of shillings yet those who have genuinely supported the force over the years are being forced out of business. “Why is it only us who are not being paid? Why does he pay the crime preventers and neglect us?” the chairperson questioned.
Intimidation of suppliers
The members say they have received intimidation from the police officers each time they demand their money.
One supplier who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his security said he was demanding Shs400 million from the police. He said he sold the food to police in 2016, but since then, he has only received Shs10 million.
“My business is collapsing and yet when I went to police, the IGP refused to pay my money but instead told me to go to court,” the source said.
Another source who also preferred anonymity said he has supplied the force for the last 25 years. “I know everything within the force but I cannot tell you any details because of my security. You are a journalist and if I tell you, tomorrow you will hear….[I] have been picked. The force is very corrupt to the bones,” he claimed.
He said he has received threats on several occasions each time he asked for his money.
Mr Arvind Patel, the Board Director of Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industries said they have raised the issue of nonpayment of suppliers to the police several times and nothing has been done.
“I have no interests in this thing. I am not a supplier but I am only helping these people to access the money they have supplied goods for. I will personally lead you people to meet the speaker to ensure that you get your money,” he said.
Police in financial crisis
Attempts to get a response from the police on what next after the contractors withdrew their service were futile. The known telephone number of the police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima was switched off, while his deputy, Poly Namaye could not answer our repeated calls.
The police is currently in a financial crisis, choking on over Shs125 billion debt. The debt accruing from electricity, water, food supply and fuel has been increasing steadily since 2010 with it hitting Shs25.9 billion as of January this year.
General Kayihura during the opening of annual police council session said the situation needs urgent intervention from the government.
"For example we accumulate debts through buying of food. We need to find a way to grow our own food like the Prisons but also to create revenue generating activities," Kayihura said while addressing several officers who attended the council meeting.