The Internal Affairs Minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire has expressed concern over the deplorable state in which police officers’ accommodation units are.
“The police accommodation situation 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 these barracks,” Otafiire said.
Otafiire was on Thursday speaking during the 26th Police Council meeting at Police headquarters in Naguru.
The minister was however quick to blame police for not having a plan in place to improve the situation.
He asked the Police’s Undersecretary, Aggrey Wunyi to get private investors who can build housing units for police officers and then get paid later.
“We have agreed with Ministry of Finance that we can get people who can use their own money to come and build us barracks and we shall pay them gradually. People have approached me, applied and I have sent them to you. The problem with you in government is that when I send you and find that there are complications, you don’t report back,” Otafiire said.
“Why am I here and earning a salary? I am a minister and earning a salary not to be driven around and saluted but here to minister the police. My job is to help you. I am your leader but why don’t you use me to deal with your problems? Lets get people, even if it is one or two to build the houses and we look for money. Government is in eternity. Imagine are paying Idi Amin’s debts, 50 years later. Let’s build for the future and they will appreciate and pay.”
Commissions 420 units
At the same function, the Internal Affairs Minister commissioned 420 new housing units for junior police officers at Naguru.
The new housing units have been named after the seven Inspector Generals of Police Uganda has had since 1964.
He however said the 420 units are only a drop in the ocean of 53000 housing units that the force needs for all its officers.
The Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola said the 420 units are part of another batch of similar housing units to be built in Jinja and Entebbe this financial year before rolling out to other cities and municipalities countrywide.
“Consequently I convey my sincere gratitude to the minister and the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs for the support offered to police.”
The police has always been blamed for neglecting the critical issue of officers’ welfare with a handful of officers having decent accommodation units.
Many of the houses in the barracks were built by the colonial government and are currently in a sorry state whereas in other cases, officers sleep in uniports erected by the force to fill the gap.
Many have accused the force of fortifying itself by acquiring firepower to deal with civil disobedience but neglecting the welfare of its own officers who do the donkey work.
However, the force has blamed the poor housing units on budget constraints.