Police boss Kale Kayihura has hit back at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director Jennifer Musisi for criticizing the role of police in managing traffic in the city.
There was chaos in the city on Friday evening following the withdrawal of traffic police officers on the orders of Kayihura. Police withdrew the traffic officers after Musisi criticised them for intercepting traffic lights controls, saying it defeats the purpose for the investment.
Musisi made the remark while meeting World Bank officials. She blamed the traffic directorate for the poor functioning of the traffic lights.
“When police intercepts the function of these traffic light, this wastes our heavy investment and also breeds a culture of law breakers yet the police are law makers,” reads a tweet on Musisi’s official handle.
When the tweet went viral, the Traffic police boss, Stephen Kasiima sought permission from Kayihura to withdraw traffic police, which led to heavy jam in the city.
Kayihura ordered the traffic police to resume work following widespread complaints from motorists.
“People called me complaining and after a preaching where we were told to forgive our critics, I advised them to deploy on traffic lights again,” Kayihura said.
Speaking to residents of Kulambiro in Kisasi on Sunday evening, the visibly angry Kayihura said KCCA has joined the bandwagon of those criticizing police since it has become fashionable.
“They sit with World Bank and simply because it’s now on fashion to talk badly about the police, they criticize us even where we are doing a good job. That we are disrupting the functioning of their traffic lights,” Kayihura said in an angry tone.
The disagreement between police and KCCA over the management of city traffic is far from over. Peter Kauju, the KCCA spokesperson, says the authority maintains it position that the traffic lights should be left to function as they were intended to do.
“We have been installing traffic lights and they should be allowed to function properly. Police should continue with arresting motorists who don’t abide by the traffic lights and those who commit other offenses,” Kauju told this publication.
Adding that, “No one should be contradicting the traffic lights by stopping vehicles when the lights say go or vice versa.”
This publication has learnt that police and KCCA have had several meetings about the traffic lights involving others stakeholders like ministry of Works and Transport but failed to harmonise their positions.
Both institutions are mandated by law to handle traffic in Kampala, which is the root of all misunderstandings. Apart from installing traffic lights Section 7(j) of the KCCA act mandates KCCA to install, organize and manage traffic.
Article 22 of the Police Act to stop also mandates police to divert, or otherwise direct and regulate the course of traffic.
There are about ten traffic light points in Kampala, which are yet to be synchronized. There are plans to install traffic lights at 32 other junctions to raise the number to 42.
While the lights are left to control traffic during a bigger part of the day, during peak hours, traffic officers take on the role directing traffic in total disregard of the traffic lights. The officers direct traffic putting into consideration the route with the highest volume of vehicles.