Gangs take over Kampala

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Gangs take over Kampala
Kampala City at night.

As insecurity increases in Kampala and its suburbs, where gangs seem to have taken over from the police, Ugandans have been urged to increase their vigilance while traveling.

Kampala has increasingly become a hotbed for criminal gangs, with many dark spots around the city where these gangs operate in plain sight of the police.

Ugandans and their leaders are beginning to wonder if they are on their own. However, the police insist they are still in charge and have intensified their operations.

Kampala, the capital of Uganda, hosts over 6 million people who work in the city during the day and leave in the evening.

The city and its suburbs have become a hotbed of organized gangs and robbers who primarily operate in the evening, targeting those returning home to rob them of their property and money.

Boda Boda transport is the most common means of transport for many urban dwellers, but it has become a vessel for criminals.

It is difficult to detect who is rogue or not, as organized gangs use Boda Bodas to track and seize their targets once they reach dark spots or when they disembark at their destinations.

The increasing insecurity in the city and the suburbs has left many wondering if the police have handed over control to the gangs.

During a night tour of we start at a place known as Kisekka Market, one of the busiest and most notorious dark spots in the city, a man in a red jumper sweater was spotted waiting by the road.

He immediately disappeared upon seeing the NBS cameras. This area is controlled by gangs from Makerere Kivulu, who operate in Kisekka Market, Old Kampala, the Equatorial Hotel, and surrounding areas.

The gangs have divided the city into operating zones and territories, all under the watchful eyes of the police.

A popular gang known as Kifeesi controls the largest part, including the heart of the business district, Clock Tower, Entebbe Road, Katwe, Ben Kiwanuka Street, and Jinja Road. This gang is reported to reside in the slums of Nsambya and Katwe Kinyoro, alongside another gang known as Bakawenja.

Other gangs include B13, which controls Kyengera and Nabbingo, the Kasoro Boys in Kawempe, and the Naguru Arrows in Kololo, Lugogo, Naguru, and surrounding areas.

It appears that the entire city and its suburbs have been taken over by gangs, with areas like Nansana, Kyengera, Katwe, Kampala CBD, and the Northern Bypass being particularly dangerous.

In these areas, it becomes a "head hammering, choke holds business," with some victims being attacked with concrete pavers.

Security experts have raised concern about the close relationship between the police and these criminals, with reports suggesting that police officers even have the criminals' contacts saved. This raises fears about whether the police can effectively combat these gangs.

Security expert Fred Egesa believes the police have long been derailed.

"You see the police putting all their efforts into very trivial matters. In a country where the police are in close proximity with crime, and criminals even know how to talk with the police, your phone is grabbed, and the police ask how the thief looked, then they pick up a phone and say, 'You people, bring back this man’s phone," Egesa says.

Security expert Yasin Ssekamatte believes it is time for the police to resume community policing.

"There is a lack of proper coordination in community policing. During the days of Kale Kayihura, Asuman Mugyenyi, and Asan Kasingye, there were periodical public engagements."

The Shadow Minister in charge of security, Francis Zaake, says it is difficult for the police to deal with criminals given their working conditions and low pay.

He adds that security personnel have been involved in some of these crimes, making it evident that Ugandans are on their own.

"When you see the mobile money attacks and investigate, you find out it’s the security people. When I look at that round kick given to that white man, it’s from a professional."

However, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Patrick Onyango says the police are not folding their arms.

He says they are aware of the insecurity and have intensified operations, with community policing being one of the interventions.

"We are doing something. We have started and enhanced our patrols and community policing."

Fred Egesa notes that the procured cameras appear to be faulty, with their design and capability being outdated, hence not helping enough.

"Most of the cameras are not working; they are substandard, and many of them are outdated."

The mayor of the gang-infested Kampala Central, Salim Uhuru, says it is high time the populace took charge of their security and became more vigilant.

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