At least 5,000 more Closed Circuit Television-CCTV cameras are needed in order to monitor criminal gangs in the slums of the Kampala Metropolitan area, the Director of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the Uganda Police Force, Senior Commissioner of Police –SCP Yusuf Ssewanyana has revealed.
According to Ssewanyana, the 3,323 CCTV cameras that were installed in KMP over three years ago are inadequate to spy on the activities of criminal gangs. He says that the cameras are also unable to aid investigations of atrocities committed by gangs in slum areas because they are only found on major roads and junctions.
“We need about 20,000 CCTV cameras to cover the country. KMP alone needs at least 5,000 more cameras in order to bridge the monitoring gaps in highly populated areas. This is why you find we have many blind spots,” Ssewanyana said in an interview.
He was responding to queries by our reporter why criminal gangs have continued terrorising KMP dwellers despite the installation of the security cameras. Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga had earlier said intelligence-led operations had resulted in the arrest of suspected gang ringleaders in among other areas Katale zone, Katwe-Kinyoro, and Nsambya Kevina. He identified the gang leaders as Richard Atuhaire, Shukura Kabengana, Richard Tumwesigye and John Ahimbisibwe.
According to intelligence teams from Kabalagala and Katwe police divisions, the quartet was using a pistol without a magazine to threaten and intimidate their victims. “We are aware of the danger and threats posed by criminal groups in our neighborhoods. It is against this background, that we continue to conduct robust operations, to significantly disrupt their networks and attempts to create criminal sanctuaries, within the KMP suburbs,” Enanga said.
Ssewanyana explained that even the few CCTV cameras that were installed in KMP have been antagonized by road works like the Kampala flyover project. This has hampered the effective operation of the security cameras along Entebbe, Nsambya, and Mukwano roads
According to Ssewanyana, security cameras were installed to work in a ring-like format. This means one fiber uprooted because of road construction affects about 40 other cameras. “For instance, we had fiber that was uprooted around Fairway junction and this immediately disconnected Gulu City. We monitor the cameras from here (Naguru) but one construction project may put off dozens of cameras. We are appealing to urban areas to involve us when approving work permits for buildings and road constructions,” Ssewanyana said.
Other factors that have hampered the effectiveness of the security cameras according to Ssewanyana is the low power voltage in many areas of KMP and upcountry places. Police say there are areas whose maximum power voltage, according to electricity distributors is 160 kilowatts. “These cameras are on but they cannot pick the images because of insufficient power. We keep calling our personnel thinking cameras have issues only to realize it is a result of low voltage power,” Ssewanyana said.
Although Ssewanyana said plans to purchase more than 5,000 CCTVs for KMP are underway, he also noted that there is a need to address factors that are affecting the installed cameras. The purchase and installation of more than 5,000 cameras in KMP under the 3rd phase, estimated at over US$50m about Shillings190.6 billion is underway.
Some of the gangs that have found solace in slums include Egaali, who move in a group of 15 people, Dog Tulumbe which operates with between 20 to 30 people, and B13 based in Mengo, Kasumuluzo that speciliases in house break-ins and burglary.