Uganda police orders private firms to halt deployment of lone guard

Uganda police orders private firms to halt deployment of lone guard
Security guards with the private security company Saracen Uganda Ltd., go on a patrol in an effort to protect a Heritage Oil exploration site on Lake Albert, Uganda. Photo by Matt Moyer

The Uganda Police Force has directed private security firms to stop deploying one armed guard at duty stations.

In his December 31, 2018 letter, Asuman Mugyenyi, police director of operations directed the private firms to deploy at least two guards at each duty station.

Mugyenyi warns private security firms against defying the directive.

“In spite of warning letters to you, deployment of lone armed private security guards has continued. The result has been that many security guards have been victims to this with other losing lives and firearms falling into the hands of thugs,” Mugyenyi wrote in the letter.

Adding: “In order to safeguard the lives of security guards and minimize loss of firearms you are once again directed to deploy two guards at each guard point. This serves as a final warning.”

Hiring a private armed guard costs an average of Shs 600,000 per month – meaning clients will have to part with an additional Shs 600,000 for a second guard.

This is the third time police is issuing the same order. The matter first came up during a meeting between the Inspector General of Police, Martin Okoth Ochola and directors of private security firms in November last year.

During the meeting, the directors of private firms said the directive has cost implications on their clients because they will have to pay for an extra guard.

A source privy to the meeting said that Ochola maintained his stand, saying there can’t compromise when it comes to protecting firearms from falling into wrong hands as well as the lives of the guards.

Anisah Murungi, a resident of Kansanga has been using an armed guard for the last one year. She said that her service provider has already notified about the police directive.

“They want me to pay Shs 1.4 million for two guards. Where am I supposed to get that money? I think I will resort to unarmed guards now,” she told this publication.

Five days ago unidentified thugs attacked a security guard attached to New Securiko Uganda Limited Kabale branch while on guard duties at Rukiga Savings Credit Cooperation branch in Nyaruziba Kasambya sub-county in Rukiga district and made off with his firearm.

The directive for armed personnel to operate in pairs started during the reign of the former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura. He issued the orders when unidentified thugs started targeting armed police officers and make off with their guns.

Some of the officers were killed while others escaped with several injuries. 90 per cent of the fire arms in the hands of private security firms belong to Uganda Police Force, which hires them out to the firms at a monthly fee.