Police housing is a disgrace, says minister

Police officers inspect Police housing units in Uganda recently. 

What you need to know:

  • According to police, they require Shs879b, which is the annual budget of the entire force, to meet current housing needs.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, has said the accommodation situation in the police force is disgraceful.

Maj Gen Otafiire, who is also the chairperson of the Police Authority, made the revelations during the 26th Police Council meeting at the police headquarters in Naguru yesterday.

“The state of accommodation of the police force is a disgrace to say the least. In fact, I am surprised we still have police officers. People are living in places I don’t want to mention…sometimes I avoid going to the barracks because what will I say,” Gen Otafiire said.

Moments after Gen Otafiire made that statement, he commissioned 420 apartments for the police, which he said is a drop in the ocean. It has taken police more than 10 years to complete Phase I of the project due to shortage of funds.

The police, which has 54,000 personnel, have a housing accommodation gap of 33,000 units. Last financial year, they erected 10,000 uniports to fill the gap. Even the existing housing units, 9,200 need critical repairs.

Gen Otafiire said the government doesn’t have enough funds to deal with the accommodation challenges, but insists the housing shortage can be solved if private investors are invited to help out.

“We told you to get someone. There are people who have money. We have agreed with the Ministry of Finance that there are people who have their own money. They should come and build police barracks and we shall pay them gradually,” he said.

Gen Otafiire said the shortage of houses has forced police officers to rent far away from their workstations, which causes a chain of other problems such as late coming as they struggle to navigate through traffic jams, hence affecting their performance and service delivery.

Last month, the police force invited investors willing to contribute money in its housing projects. Several companies showed interest and the evaluation process is still ongoing.

The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola, said the welfare of his personnel is a big challenge.

“I am delighted that today…you will be able to commission 420 apartments at Naguru. Similar accommodation will be constructed in Entebbe and Jinja this financial year before rolling out [the housing project] to other cities and municipalities countrywide,” IGP Ochola said.

On March 8, Ms Anita Among, then the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, visited the family of the late Robert Bweyamba, a police officer and a driver at Parliament, at Nsambya Police Barracks and she promised to advocate for the police officers’ welfare.

“The welfare of police officers has to be addressed as a matter of urgency because the situation at Nsambya is worrying. We shall do our best to ensure that the welfare is handled as a matter of priority in the budgets that we process,” Ms Among tweeted.

In the same month, Members of Parliament on the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee made the same pledge while touring Jinja Police Barracks where they found horrible living conditions.

The chairperson of the committee, Ms Rosemary Nyakikongoro, said: “I think funding has been given to the police, but this time round, we want to ring fence the infrastructure development.”

Two days later, the MPs passed the national budget without anyone raising the police accommodation issues.

Housing budget

According to police, they require Shs879b, which is the annual budget of the entire force, to meet current housing needs.

“If this accommodation gap is to be addressed over a 10-year period, the annual budgetary requirement is Shs87b. The police force has been allocated Shs43b leaving Shs44b shortfall,” the 2022 ministerial statement reads in part.