Police Standards Unit to Probe Commanders for ‘Protecting’ Bars Operating Amid Lockdown

Uganda Police Director of Operations, AIGP Edward Ochom. (FILE PHOTO)

Kampala – Police Commanders, whose jurisdiction or precincts will be found with operational bars, will risk indictment as enforcement of the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) bites.

The crackdown has already kicked off as Police commanders at Nateete police station land in trouble for allegedly protecting bars operating against directives during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In March 2020, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni closed all entertainment venues including bars in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The leisure places affected by Museveni’s orders for more than a year now include bars, disco clubs and concert venues.

However, police director for operations, AIGP Edward Ochom, accuses police stations of protecting bars within their areas of jurisdiction to operate against COVID-19 orders.

Woes of Nateete police officers started at the weekend when the Police alert squad on orders of AIGP Ochom raided Best Hotel which is within the vicinity of Nateete police station and found more than 120 drinking alcohol and dancing.

Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, said AIGP Ochom has all reason to suspect that Nateete police commanders were fully aware of the activities at Best Hotel which defied COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures- SOPs.

Enanga said AIGP Ochom has now directed the force’s Professional Standards Unit –PSU to conduct an investigation with the view of prosecuting whoever connived with Best Hotel to flout the COVID-19 guidelines.

“The director of Operations has come up with a very stun warning specially to acting DPCs because we have noticed that people are operating bars, holding house parties and the commanders are aware of these actions. For instance, what happened in Nateete, our PSU has descended on the station to ensure acting OC and DPC to account for the continuous flouting of SOPs just within the vicinity of the station,” said Enanga.

Recently all District and Division Police Commanders –DPCs were summoned for a three months training in Yumbe district. This has left police stations and divisions under the command of Assistant Superintendents of Police –ASPs.

Several bars have been operating since Uganda announced its first lockdown on March 18th, 2020. The DPCs and OCs have often found powerful people in such bars who threaten them. There are also some owned by police commanders and have never stopped operating.

Relatedly, security forces last week arrested 2,180 people on the accusation of flouting COVID-19 orders. Of these, 1,280 have since been cautioned and released and 612 have been taken to courts of law.

At least 1,130 cars moving past curfew time including those which were not essential were impounded in the last seven days. Police issued Express Penalty tickets to 691 cars, 366 owners were cautioned whereas EPS tickets were also extended to 2,609 out of 3348 impounded motorcycles.

Police have also warned Ugandans against risking their lives through using motorcycles which were banned from operating alongside other means of public transport.

“There are some acts of impatience and complacency in the public. We had one bad incident in Mukono where the rider jumped off and left a female passenger on a motorcycle. She badly fell down and sustained serious injuries. There a number of fake patients moving on the road,” said Enanga.

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Motorists using access routes to get into the city centre or their workplaces have also been warned. Police have said all vehicles which were not cleared by the Ministry of Works and transport will have their number plates plucked off.

The Kampala Metropolitan traffic police commander, SSP Norman Musinga, last week ordered police to move into the city centre and remove number plates of all cars that had accessed the City without clearance from the ministry of works and transport.

By the close of the week, more than 100 number plates had been removed from vehicles.

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