- Plan. The government says the reservists with the arms will be vetted, dismissing fears of escalating crime.
KAMPALA. Kampala and Wakiso districts will have the highest concentration of the country’s guns with nearly 50,000 armed personnel, once President Museveni’s directive to enlist 24,000 reservists into Local Defence Unit (LDU) is enforced.
The State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Obiga Kania, told Daily Monitor on Wednesday that the process to mobilise the LDU force has already started.
“The technical people who are planning how the process will be done have already started,” he said.
President Museveni in an address to the nation from State House, Entebbe last Sunday ordered recruitment of 24,000 LDUs to be deployed in Kampala and surrounding Wakiso following a string of recent murders by gunmen riding motorcycles.
Already, police statistics issued early this year indicate there are more than 7,000 guns in police hands in the Kampala Metropolitan area, which covers Kampala proper, neighbouring Wakiso and some parts of Mukono and Kayunga districts.
These numbers add to 19,000 privately owned guns in Uganda, according to estimates released by Internal Affairs ministry this year.
About 85 per cent of these guns are in Kampala and Wakiso districts.
The report said of the 19,000 guns, at least 15,000 are in the hands of private security firms while 4,000 firearms, especially pistols, are in hands of privately licensed individuals.
But these numbers do not cover data for the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), although the army’s 1st Division infantry headquarters is in Kakiri, Wakiso District.
Under the army structures, a division has between 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers, but these could also be spread across the central region outside Kampala and Wakiso.
Nevertheless, there are UPDF units such as the Military Police in Makindye, Air Force in Entebbe, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Mbuya garrison, Ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, Special Forces Command in Entebbe and Nakasero State Lodge in Kampala, with significant armouries.
But the army spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, said UPDF soldiers’ have always been in positions and their role is not to do patrol to fight crime.
“We have different missions and tasks to accomplish, but the responsibility of keeping law and order is squarely with the police,” he said.
Brig Karemire also said the LDU force to be deployed will be vetted.
With the President’s order to call up 24,000 reservists, the number of guns and personnel to be deployed in Kampala and Wakiso will outstrip the combined army and police numbers in each of the previous regimes of Idi Amin in the 1970s, and Milton Obote in the 1980s. The Uganda Army under Amin stood at about 25,000 while the police force was 15,000.
Under the Obote II government, the Uganda National Liberation Army numbered about 30,000 while the police force was 10,000. But the population in the country, particularly in Kampala and Wakiso has increased.
Mr Kania dismissed fears that having a huge number of reservists with arms risks escalating crime in the city and its environs.
“I know where there is high gun concentration, there is a high risk of crime, but these people will be vetted. It is not a matter of giving guns to anyone,” he said.
Mr Kania also said the guns in the hands of security forces and privately owned guns are rarely used to commit serious crimes, saying most of them come from neighbouring countries.
When the crime rate spiralled in Kampala and Wakiso, Internal Affairs ministry raised gun licence fee from Shs160,000 to Shs6m to discourage easy and widespread access to guns.
Sources say the current security plan is to have 12 guards in every community of 2,000 residents in Kampala and Wakiso. This strategy would be similar to what the village vigilantes or crime preventers have been using.
But the same security sources say, all the 24,000 reservists might not be armed.
1. 24,000 Reservists
2. 7,000 Police
3. 15,000 Private Security guards
4. 4,000 Private individuals
5. UPDF First Division in Kakiri
6. SFC in Entebbe, Nakasero
7. Air Force in Entebbe
8. Military Police in Makindye
9. Mbuya Garrison