Ugandan gov’t introduces voluntary disarmament in Wakiso

Ugandan gov’t introduces voluntary disarmament in Wakiso
SSP Florence Kiribira, head of Uganda National Focal point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, says that before government apply forceful disarmament, residents have been given a chance to give fire arms voluntarily.

As gun violence takes toll on Greater Kampala Metropolitan area, government has embarked on a voluntary disarmament initiative courting all individuals illegally owning fire arms to hand them over to authorities.

Authorities in the Ministry of Internal Affairs are certain that a large number of people in areas of Wakiso, and Luweero triangle at large, might be unlawfully having fire arms.

Many of the said fire arms are believed that where left behind by fighters during the bush war whose battle field was in this areas.

Available records also indicate that districts of Wakiso, Mukono, Mpigi, and Kampala has been with a record of gun violence. The situation is worst in Mpigi and Wakiso where incidents of robbery on gun point are reportedly high.

SSP Florence Kiribira, head of Uganda National Focal point on Small Arms and Light Weapons, says that before government uses forceful disarmament, residents have been given a chance to hand over fire arms voluntarily. She adds that among those who illegally own guns, many would like to surrender them but have always feared to be arrested.

Kiribira adds that besides security agencies, that the ministry is to work hand in hand with religious, cultural and local leaders whom residents trust so that they help in sensitizing the public and also receive fire arms from members who might not feel free to hand them directly to security authorities.

She said people with illegal fire arms should not be tempted to keep them but rather take to the office which is going to be set up to receive them.

Philip Ouma, director finance and administration for Regional Centre and Small Arms says that if the exercise is successful in Wakiso, they want to roll out a national programme of getting guns from civilians in the entire country.

“This is very possible if every one of us play his or her role. At least we have a point of reference which is Karamoja region where this exercise has been a success. He adds that as time goes on,” says Ouma. He adds that they also indent to introduce drop boxes where the fire arms may be put.

The Wakiso Resident District Commissioner Rose Kirabira says that as the ministry embarks on disarming civilians, there are worries that a number of private security firms and some police officers sometimes hire out fire arms to robbers thus asking authorities to swing in and curb the vice.

Recently, the Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola, halted licensing of fire arms due to the increased demand. Records from internal affairs indicate that 19,000 guns are legally in the hands of Ugandan civilians or private security firms, official records show. Of which 3,000 are in the hands of civilians, majority of them politicians and business people.

URN