Security personnel to be deployed to building rooftops

Thursday January 14 2021
Ugandan police officers and members of Local Defence Units on curfew patrol in Kamapla in April 2020.

Ugandan police officers and members of Local Defence Units, a paramilitary force composed of civilians, on curfew patrol in Kamapla in April 2020.

By Benson Tumusiime

The government will deploy security personnel on all rooftops of Kampala’s arcades and tall buildings to ensure security in the capital as Ugandans go to the polls today.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said the security decision was informed by violent protests in and around Kampala in November.

He said police intelligence and CCTV footage analysis indicated that people who were leading the rioters operated on rooftops of arcades to give instructions to the protesters.

Mr Onyango said they used rooftops as observation posts to monitor the movement of security personnel on ground.

“A fortnight ago, security personnel who were on routine patrol were pelted with stones that were coming from the rooftop of Nabukeera Arcade. On January 11 last year, at around 6.30pm, at Kisekka-Kyaggwe Road, security personnel who were on foot patrol were pelted with stones. On checking, they saw a man at the rooftop of the arcade aiming at them with a bow and arrow. In self-defence, they shot him and he was injured before he later died at Mulago National Referral Hospital,” said Mr Onyango at a press conference in Kampala yesterday.

Find solutions

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He said following such incidents, security agencies held a meeting with the business community and arcade owners to find solutions to protect the buildings, businesses, traders, customers and security personnel.

He said the meeting was chaired by Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Moses Kafeero and attended by military police commander Col Keith Katungi and other senior security personnel.

Mr Onyango said they decided that security operatives immediately take over all the rooftops of arcades and other high buildings within the capital.

He said hawkers will not be allowed access to the arcades.

He also noted that the security emphasised the vote-and-go policy after voting today to avoid causing chaos at the polling stations and to observe the standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“We urge the public to come, vote and go such that we are all safe. But those who will try to bring chaos by remaining at polling stations after casting their vote shall be arrested,” said Mr Onyango.

He added that only accredited people shall be allowed inside the tallying centre such as candidates’ agents and journalists.

Traders' association

Everest Kayondo, the chairperson of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), who also attended the said security meeting, told the press that security agencies requested the business community to enable them access to the rooftops of their buildings.

He said the security personnel said the rooftops had become a security threat, especially in election time.

“We have agreed to work together with security and we have allowed them to access the buildings since they have intelligence information but we have agreed that only security personnel in uniform shall be allowed to access the buildings,” said Mr Kayondo.

The police and military stepped up security in and around Kampala ahead of today’s elections.

Mr Onyango said police and the military are moving on foot patrolling the streets, while others are stationed at some streets known to be violence hotspots.

“We have intensified our security by putting both police, Local Defence Unit personnel, army, intelligence officers, CCTV camera operators on foot and motorised patrols to do surveillance of the city,” said Mr Onyango. 

A warning

While addressing the press at Naguru police headquarters last Friday, heads of security agencies warned all people intending to cause chaos during and after the election that they would suffer consequences.

Adolf Mwesige, the minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, said political candidates must accept the choice of the people as declared by the EC.

“The only channel you can use to oppose the results is the courts of law and not violence. This is not the first time we are having elections,” said Mwesige said.

The campaign period, which started in early November and ended two days ago, has been characterised by violence and bloodshed both on and off the campaign trail, public protests, and arrests of Opposition candidates and supporters.

The arrest of National Unity Platform party presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, on November 18, sparked violent two-day violent protests in Kampala and some other towns outside the capital, leading to the killing of 54 people, mainly shot by security forces.

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