Why Ochola suspended licences of 39 private security companies

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Inspector General of Police- Martin Ochola, has suspended the licenses of 39 private security companies. Although the IGP said the affected companies failed to fulfill some or all of the necessary conditions for license renewal since last year as per regulation 14(d) of the Police (Control of Private Security Organizations) Regulations 2013, new details have emerged.

Sources have revealed that the majority of the affected companies had been operating with insufficient funds and had not paid their guards for months. It is said that some of the guards secretly petitioned the IGPs office and showed proof that they had gone nine months without pay.

“When the IGP’s office received these allegations, they tasked the companies to present payment proofs for their guards. Many did not show up while those that attempted to prove presented uncoordinated documents,” sources said.

Sources added that the IGP’s office gave the companies a full month to address the challenges but they failed. The police force department for Private Security Organizations (PSOs) and firearms also tabled a report showing that some private companies had not paid for the guns they hire from the police and other gun importing agencies.

Private security companies hire guns from the police while others hire weapons from gun-importing organizations cleared and monitored by the Ministry of Defence.  It is said that the police resolved to withdraw all their guns and also directed private gun importers to do the same.

“A decision was taken to suspend these private security companies because their armed guards pose a security threat. If a guard has not been paid even for a month, he can use that weapon to hurt innocent people,” the source said.

Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, said the list of the suspended PSOs had been shared to station and division commanders who are the immediate supervisors. However, this publication has seen the list of the suspended PSOs.

The private security firms whose licences have been withdrawal are:

Alpha Guards Security Services, Tactical Security Services Ltd, Kwisaph Security Ltd, Blue Water Guard & Security Services Ltd. Blue Fox Guards DND, Solid Security Services Ltd, Al-Thuraya Consultancy Ltd, Taifa Security (U) Ltd, United Heroes Ltd, Aza Security CO. Ltd, Axis Warriors Ltd, Buka Security Services Ltd, Wink Worth Investigators and Detective Agency, Christian Guards Security Services Ltd, Executive Security Services Ltd, Reserve Protection Services Ltd, Iris Security Company Ltd, Sharp Security O. Ltd, Strat Corps Security Ltd, Tebe Security Group Ltd, Zebra Security Co. Ltd, KBJ Guards Co, Ltd, The Gideons Men, Rangers Security Ltd, Elga Force Security Ltd, and Anka Security Services Ltd.

Others include Ndugari Security Services Ltd, Hercules Support, Krone (U) Ltd, Trust Security Company Ltd, Star React Guards Ltd, Delta Force Protection Services Ltd, Alert Guards & Security System Ltd, Premier Security System Ltd, Alert Guards & Security Systems Ltd, and Tracker (U) Ltd.

Enanga said all commanders of the areas in which the suspended private security companies are located should take action and ensure they don’t continue operating illegally. In order for them to be allowed to operate again, the IGP has said they must show an NSSF certificate of clearance, evidence of payment of gun licensing fees/ gun rental fees, and evidence of annual inspection of the company.

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“All regional Police Commanders have been instructed to ensure that these companies halt their operations and ensure compliance with the suspension. A team of officers from the Private Security and Firearms department has been instructed to conduct withdrawal/ recovery of firearms from the respective PSOs,” Enanga said.

Although the Chairman of The Uganda Private Security Association (TUPSA), Grace Matsiko, could not be reached for comment for this story, he recently explained that starting up a private security company requires over 200 million Shillings.

Matsiko also explained that some PSO did not recover from the COVID-19 lockdown crisis as many of their clients did not pay or even suspend guard hiring. However, in some cases, the proprietors of the companies have been accused of living an extravagant life at the expense of their guards’ payments.