By Jairus Bwayo
Abim-There is a great sigh of relief among the people of Morulem town council in Abim district as the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) has commissioned a community police post and staff quarters to improve on the security that had deteriorated due to the enormous raids.
Valued at Shs600m and constructed by African construction Technicians and Constructors limited, the Morulem Community Police Post is one of the seven community police posts being constructed to boost security in seven districts in Karamoja under the programme of Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) with from the European Union and supervised by OPM.
While commissioning Morulem Community Police Post, the state minister of Karamoja Agnes Nandutu whose speech was read by Gonzaga Mayanja, the Commissioner of Monitoring, and Evaluation, Local Governments at OPM said; “OPM is partnering with the Uganda Police Force (UPF) under the DINU programme to build capacities of officers and increase police presence in Karamoja.”
She noted that DINU is an affirmative action programme of the Government of Uganda and as such, OPM is responsible for the supervision, coordination, and accountability of the various actions under the DINU programme.
“Today, OPM hands over this investment and facility to UPF and the targeted communities for their benefit and use. As a government programme, we believe that this police post will contribute to increased presence and functionality of community policing, community awareness of the role of UPF in safety and security, and promotion of human rights activities in Karamoja,” Nandutu said.
The Minister hailed the European Union for supporting the Government of Uganda in building UPF capacities in Karamoja, a sub-region that has been up till now facing insecurity challenges, including cattle rustling activities.
“Through the various financing agreements with the Government of Uganda, the European Union has continuously supported UPF in building the force’s capacities in community policing and promotion of human rights in the Karamoja Sub-region. I wish to thank the European Union for this support,” she said.
To ensure that there is proper operation and maintenance of the investment established, the minister urged both the police and the community to own the facility to enable it to function beyond the time of project implementation.
“I don’t want to see white elephants after you have closed the projects and the communities start calling the projects after the NGO that provided them. I want to see the communities fully owning them. This will ensure sustainability and effective utilization and functionality” Nandutu added.
In response, James Ocaya the Assistant inspector general of police in charge of the Directorate of Research, Planning and Development, said Karamoja Sub-region has had a long history of insecurity which has led to low levels of development in the area thus such an investment will be guarded jealously to ensure it meets the intended goals.
“We are going to orient all our officers who will be deployed here to ensure that they use the facilities properly as well as we shall fence off this whole compound to ensure their safety first as we continue to serve the community,” Ocaya said.
Although these interventions are taking place and improving the visibility of police in the region, Ocaya revealed that the police presence is too low in the Karamoja sub-region and called upon the government and the European Union for more support of peace to be realized.“As we stand, out of the 76 sub-counties in the region, our presence is only in 24 sub-counties to lack of infrastructure, support service and manpower” Ocaya revealed.
He added expressing his gratitude to the OPM and EU noting that the establishment of these posts in these particular locations will deter the level of crime.
“We are grateful for the support from the OPM and EU for construction of the community police posts and with all infrastructures in place, we are going to make sure that the manpower is deployed in these stations”
Pamela Kabahesi, National programme coordinator office of the prime minister Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) noted that OPM whole project of establishing community police posts has been valued at Shs4.8bn where seven different firms are constructing districts of Abim (Morulem), Alakas (Amudat), Lokori (Karenga), Nakapelimoru (Kotido), Nakiloro (Moroto), Apeitolim (Napak) and Namalu (Nakapiripirit).
Kabahesi said that each of the seven police posts shall be equipped with solar power, furniture, and two motorcycles to support officers’ transport, a water harvesting system and a borehole and will drive the total project sum to Shs5.4bn.
“We have not only looked at the infrastructural development but have also trained police officers under project these districts and community policing, communication skills, human rights issues and training for communities around these police posts for good neighbourhood watch so that they assist police in doing their work,” Kabahesi said.
Meanwhile, Sylvester Omara, a resident of ywe-wii cell in Morulem town council told new vision that the establishment of some of the police posts is a sigh of relief to the communities that have long been waiting for the service.
“Since the insurgency of 1980s, we have not been having police services here but we are grateful that government has last thought of us,” Omara said
Adding that “we have to have sleepless nights, especially with the current cattle raids in the region because we are not sure where the rustlers will come from”
Peter Oryon, the chairperson LC1 Ywee-wii, cell in Morulem town council said the police posts wilAB/255/504/01.
“Before people would fight and kill one another in silence just because there is no police to play its role of keeping law and order among people but now we are expecting peace and enough security in our communities,” he said
Although the construction was to last one year, Bosco Makuma, the supervision engineer of African construction Technicians and Constructors, said insecurity in the region had slowed their works on site as some of the local manpower to the contractors had been arrested among the raiders thus slowing progress.
“Because of insecurity, most of the contractors have not met the deadline but we have manoeuvred through the challenges to finish the project with no defects.