Uganda Police Marine, a unit charged with ensuring safety and security on major water bodies in the country has raised concerns over the soaring challenges it is facing while executing its duties.
This was revealed on Friday by CP. Eng. James Apora, the unit commandant at the unit base located at Kigo in Wakiso district.
Commandant Apora was speaking at a passing out ceremony which was presided over by the Director of operations AIGP Asuman Mugyenyi who is the line supervisor of maritime police in the country.
At the ceremony, 46 marine divers were passed out after completing a six week refresher course in which they were trained in search and rescue, salvage, attacks and assault on waters, long distance swimming, and VIP protection among others.
According to Apora, despite the importance of this unit in policing the country’s four major water bodies that is Lake Victoria, L.Kyoga, L. Albert, Edward and George, it faces numerous challenges which needs to be addressed by the senior management and office of the office of Inspector general of police.
Maritime police normally play a role of search and rescue operations especially during water tragedies on Uganda’s water bodies.
In his address, he emphasized the need for structural development of the Unit’s headquarters by speeding up the process of land ownership at Kigo on the shores of Lake Victoria.
“Ownership of the land where maritime sits, we would like to have it formalized so that we can start structure development. We lack descent offices and accommodation of our staff,” he said
The land which police marine unit occupies is owned by Buganda kingdom. Therefore, police requires to acquiring it formally from the kingdom through Buganda land board.
He highlighted the “sorry state” of the equipment used in maritime policing mainly boats. This unit was started in 2003 and in that period, they acquired three new big boats.
In 2007, the unit added on its fleet in preparation for the commonwealth meeting.
“However most of the boats have broken down; We need to refurbish these boats so that we can police deep water bodies and distant areas,” said Apora
The commandant further informed the director that the operational boats also lack fuel as they are allocated only 100 litres per month which he said is insufficient to conduct operations and routine patrols.
He also pointed out challenges regarding welfare, limited funding for advanced maritime training, lack of kits and limited man power among others.