UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Uncompleted or “shell” houses are being blamed for the rise in crime in Kampala and Mukono. Residents of these areas report that these structures are being used as safe havens by criminals.
In Mukono Municipality, seven out of ten residents have decried the increase in crime, with many pointing to shell houses littered throughout the area.
Businessman Robert Mukasa, who runs a retail shop in Kauga, central division, Mukono Municipality, is one such victim.
While on his way home recently at about 11 pm, he was hit on the head by three boys wielding timber. He fell unconscious, and when he regained consciousness, he noticed that they had taken his mobile phone and wallet.
He saw them coming from an unfinished building nearby, and although he has complained to the local councils about these uncompleted structures, nothing has been done.
“Nobody could help me because it was late. When I came to, I noticed that they had taken my mobile phone and wallet. But I saw them coming from an unfinished building in the vicinity. We have complained about these uncompleted structures to the LCs, pointing out that they house criminals, but nothing has been done,” Mukasa narrates.
Arthur Okello, a law student at Uganda Christian University, who resides in the same area, was also a victim. Two men approached him and demanded money while he was on his way to his hostel. They threatened to kill him if he did not surrender his wallet, and he gave them everything he had to save his life. The men were coming from the same uncompleted structure as those who attacked Mukasa.
“They forcefully asked for the money I had in my wallet, threatening to kill me if I did not surrender it. I gave them all I had to save my life,” Arthur says.
In response, the local leadership has ordered owners of uncompleted houses to install doors and windows in them.
“This is not a request, but an order,” says Rose Kayiizi, a Member of the Kauga Defence Committee in Mukono Central. “Those who do not have money can use iron sheets. And I am happy to say that just one week since we told them, many have started to respond to our call.”
In Kampala, the situation is even more severe, with theft, rape, and murder being rampant in the Nakawa and Rubaga divisions in the city suburbs of Kiwatule, Naalya, Mutungo, Kitintale, and Mbuya. Police reports show that stolen property has been unearthed in these uncompleted houses.
Mayor Paul Mugambe of Nakawa Division has talked to the local councils about forcing the owners of these buildings to lock them up or hire people to live in them.
“I have talked to the LCs, to force the owners of these buildings to lock them up or hire people to live in them. This will scare criminals away,” Paul Mugambe, the Mayor of Nakawa Division says.
In Nakulabye, Rubaga Division, criminal gangs keep axes and pangas in shell houses, but the police recently conducted an operation on these houses and recovered stolen items.
Mugambe also notes that other houses acting as dens for robbers in Nakawa Division are those that the Uganda National Roads Authority bought off, awaiting demolition to pave the way for the Kampala-Jinja Express highway. UNRA promises to demolish these houses soon.
The police are working with security committees at the village level to curb these crimes.
“The local defense identifies the houses in which the criminals hide. Those found there are arrested,” Luke Owoyesigire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson says.
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