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Day April 26, 2009

Explaining Uganda Police Crisis


Dear Ugandans at Heart,

1/7  The current strength of the UPF is 18,000.  According to the United Nations, the optimum ratio of police personnel to the population for effective policing is 1:450.  With a population of 31 million, our current ratio is 1 police officer to 1,722 members of the population.  What this means is that, Uganda is underpoliced to the tune of 272%. 
 
2/7  Long before we talk ourselves hoarse over the deprivations of the police in Kampala metropolitan area, what we need to be worrying about is the fact that all that the country has in terms of police is a scarecrow: walinga. 
 
3/7  In fact, the 1:1,722 ratio is a national average.  It conceals the gross regional imbalances in policing as the table below for northern region shows:
 
                 “POLICING” IN NORTHERN UGANDA
Sub-region                                                                       Police

                                                                                       to population ratio
1.Northwest:

(Arua, Adjumani, Moyo, Nebbi,Yumbe)             1:5129
2.Central Northern:

(Pader, Kitgum, Gulu, Lira, Apac)                           1:4803
3.Northeast: 

(Amuria, Katakwi, Kaberamaido, Soroti, Kumi, Pallisa, Sironko, Kapchorwa)

                                                                                                 1:2884
4.Karamoja

(Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Kotido)                                  1:7202
Regional average                                                          1:5004
National average                                                          1:1,722

 
4/7  If you go and talk to the logistics officer of UPF right now, he will tell you that the force needs an additional 576 vehicles.  Even the distribution of the existing vehicle fleet is so skewed that, sometime in 2003, it was reported that, 16 districts in 2 regions had no police vehicles at all.  Of all the vehicles, 76% were in Central Region, 10% in Eastern Region, 9% in Western Region and a mere 5% in the troubled Northern Region. 

5/7  Even when we talk about Central Region, we may easily miss the imbalances therein.  In 2003, the UPF had a strength of 15,401 and 7,143 of those were in Kampala…i.e., 65%.  The reason why they are in dilapidated structures of Kampala may also have something to do with the fact that the majority of them are in Kampala. 
 
6/7  As we reflect on this problem, we also need to disabuse ourselves of partisanism, as I am seeing with forumists that are allied to UPC.  Underpolicing in Uganda is a historical malaise that requires suprapartisan solutions.  For example, the population of Uganda in 1985 was 15, 491,000.  The police force was a mere 8,000 personnel, the same strength as in 1969 when the population was 9 million.  For the 1985 population, Uganda required 34,450 police officers.  In other words, in 1985, Uganda was underpoliced to the tune of 330% compared to 272% today.  The ratio of police officers to the population in 1985 was 1: 1927, less favourable than today’s which as we have seen above is 1:1,722.  So forumists like Mr Mulindwa, the time for you to really explode unreservedly may have been 1985 when we maintained the strength of the police force equivalent to when we were almost half of the population of the day.
 
7/7  The point is that, the policing crisis in Uganda goes beyond the state of dilapidated billeting in the pampered Kampala.  Partisan cynicism should be taken out of our thinking because the policing crisis is a historical one and it is testimony of the failings of the elite class across the board, irrespective of what faction has been in power.    Diasporan feel-good hot air voluntarism of donating $500 is self-foolery, just as it is grievous self-deception.  I say, it should be culled and it must be called off forthwith. 

Lance Corporal (Rtd) Otto Patrick

‘UAH’ forumist

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