Pedestrians accuse Kampala Police of extortion at roadblocks

Travel permits applicants overwhelm Transport Ministry
One of police check points mounted in Kampala

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Police at the Clock-Tower in Kampala is on the spot for extorting money from city dwellers who want to access the city centre.

Due to the ongoing construction of the Kampala Fly Over project, barricades have been set up to control traffic flow at the site. This has narrowed the road and affected the flow of traffic there.

Last month when President Museveni announced 42 days nationwide lockdown as a measure of containing the spread of COVID-19, security personnel also erected a roadblock at the Nakivubo Drainage Channel to ensure that only essential workers access the town.

Yowasi Buyinza, a vendor at clock tower says that there is always a lot of traffic jam in the morning as security personnel check vehicles.

It is during checking that security personnel allegedly extort money from people accessing the town.

Charles Kigonere, a Boda Boda cyclist says that security personnel especially from the Field Force Unit (FFU) wait in the middle of the traffic jam to move into lanes arresting Boda Bodas found who commit traffic offences like not wearing a helmet or carrying passengers among others.

But, Kigonere says that they are not taken to the police station but rather asked to pay 50,000 Shillings.

Another city dweller says that the roadblocks are used by security personnel to extort money from people accessing town. She says that at the Clock-tower roadblock during the wee hours of the day when people are rushing to the markets, the security personnel take advantage to extort money from them. This is even though the movement of people on foot within a district was not stopped by the President when he instituted the lockdown.

Read Also: IGP Ochola bans police officers from driving personal cars during lockdown

She says that they pay between 1,000 to 2,000 Shillings to be allowed to go through the roadblocks.

Rose Namuyiga from Katwe says that in the evening, security personnel manning roadblocks and patrolling streets arrest them and demand money. This is especially when they find one walking during curfew hours which runs from 7 pm to 5:30 am.

Namuyiga is upset that sometimes she has to surrender her little day’s earnings to security personnel to let her go home.

The Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Luke Owoyesigire says that they have noticed a number of reports on social media accusing the police of extortion. He says that the police is investigating the complaints to ensure that officers work professionally.