Security on alert as fuel protests rock Jinja

Police deployed in Kampala City on July 25, 2022 to quell protests over the rising cost of living. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Last week, an anonymous group rallied people on social media to close businesses for three days in protest of rising commodity prices.

Jinja City spent the better part of yesterday in running battles between the security personnel and residents protesting the rising cost of living. 

Protesters blocked roads using logs and burnt tyres in the city while demanding the government to intervene and bring down the prices of fuel and other basic commodities. 

In Kampala Metropolitan area where the protests were expected, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and police personnel were heavily deployed.

At least 50 people have been arrested in Jinja City and Kampala Metropolitan Area on allegations of participating in mobilising members of the public to demonstrate. 

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said Opposition politicians were behind the protests, but security agencies were able to prevent an escalation of the situation. 

“The planners of the protests went to Kawempe telling shop attendants to close their businesses today (Monday). What we did was to deploy early in the morning to prevent them from achieving their goal,” Mr Enanga said yesterday. 

The prices of commodities have continued to increase in Uganda. The fuel prices have nearly doubled in just seven months. 

Last week, an anonymous group rallied people on social media to close businesses for three days in protest of rising commodity prices. The police and UPDF personnel have been trying to establish the groups behind the campaign. 

Kiira police spokesperson James Mubi said they have arrested 45 suspects behind the Monday morning protest by residents of Mafubira on Jinja-Kamuli highway and Jinja-Tororo highway.

“The police will prefer charges of unlawful assembly, robbery, malicious damage and being a public nuisance against the suspects,” Mr Mubi said.

Residents of Mafubira on Jinja-Kamuli road in Jinja North Division and Jinja South Division on Jinja-Tororo highway blocked the two roads with logs and stones and burnt tyres.

Mr Kenneth Kigongo, a resident of Mafubira town, said the people who staged the protests are not residents of the area.

“The protest started gradually by 6am. It became tense by 10am. Our children have not studied today because there are no means of transport,” she said.

Mr Nelson Balabyeki, the director of studies of Comprehensive SSS, said about 40 students fainted after inhaling tear gas canisters, which were hurled to the school compound.

Several suspects, who were arrested by police, were swiftly driven away by police pickup trucks. 
Residents in the affected areas closed their shops and houses as security personnel moved from house to house hunting protesters. 

Business in Kampala and surrounding suburbs was normal despite the social media messages calling for closure. 

Mr Issa Sekitto, the spokesman of Kampala City Traders Association, said they were not aware of the protest.

“I don’t know about the strike and, therefore, I cannot comment about it,” Mr Ssekitto said. 

Compiled by Denis Edema, Andrew Bagala & Benson Tumusiime