UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | The Attorney General of Uganda Kiryowa Kiwanuka has requested that a case filed by lawyer Steven Kalali, challenging the dilapidated accommodation structures of Uganda Police Officers, be dismissed by the court.
The government argues that budgetary constraints have limited its ability to provide decent housing for all police personnel, but it is gradually improving the accommodations.
Kalali’s petition filed a year ago, sought an immediate order from the court for the government to provide adequate housing for all police personnel.
When Kalali filed his petition, a group of legislators had already visited Jinja Police Barracks and observed structures built in 1934 that were in a dilapidated state.
Jinja Police barracks were also home to 1,662 people, far exceeding the planned population of 249.
Kalali provided the court with photos of dilapidated housing units in Mbale, Jinja, and Nsambya Police Barracks, as well as Auditor General Reports from 2012, 2016, and 2020 that identified the poor state of the police barracks, which he alleged had been ignored.
Kalali argued that police officers have continued to stay in unfit, dilapidated structures since the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution.
He contended that Uganda is a signatory to regional, international, and treaties that emphasise the right to a healthy environment.
Furthermore, the Uganda Police Force receives budgetary allocations annually, a portion of which should be used by the welfare department to cater to the well-being of officers.
Kalali asked the court to safeguard the rights of police officers, stating that in places like Nsambya Police Barracks, officers share decker beds with their children, infringing on their right to privacy.
He also complained that dilapidated housing structures have no security for family life, as they lack adequate drainage and sanitary facilities, among other issues, which is unlawful.
Response from the Attorney General
On Wednesday 19th April 2023, Kalali the applicant and the Attorney General’s representative State Attorney Moses Byamugisha appeared before Civil Division Judge Dr Douglas Singiza for a further hearing of the case and were asked to file written submissions by June, with judgment to be rendered on September 1st, 2023.
However, in a response to the case, the Attorney General, relying on an affidavit from AIGP Richard Edyegu, the Director of Logistics and Engineering in the Uganda Police Force, has requested the case be dismissed with costs.
Edyegu contends that Kalali’s demands can be implemented by the government in a gradual process.
Edyegu notes that there are currently 17,472 units available for accommodation, of which 6,945 are permanent and 10,527 are semi-permanent.
The key challenge in meeting the accommodation needs of the Uganda Police Force is insufficient annual capital development and maintenance budgets.
He explains that the overall budgetary allocation for police housing construction has been gradually increasing since 2017, with 38 billion shillings allocated to police for staff accommodation in the 2021/2022 financial year.
Edyegu asserts that given the resource constraints faced by the Uganda Police Force, the fulfilment of ensuring accommodation for all eligible police officers can only be achieved and realised over time.
He adds that there is an annual allocation of USh2 billion used to carry out major renovations of the various barracks, and the force is engaging several stakeholders to increase the allocation to enable the construction of more housing units annually.
Edyegu says that in 2020, at least USh3.9 billion were budgeted and used to provide support to police officers to construct their own houses.
He further explains that the government has also established partnerships with private investors to construct more houses for police officers.
In fact, he notes that there are ongoing construction projects in different parts of the country, including Kampala, Mbarara, Masaka, and Lira, among others.
Edyegu’s response highlights that while the government acknowledges the dire housing situation for police officers, it is taking steps to address the issue within the constraints of the budget.
He argues that the implementation of Kalali’s demands would be too burdensome for the government and could lead to the diversion of resources from other essential services.
Given the government’s response, it remains to be seen whether the court will dismiss the case as requested by the Attorney General.
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