The Uganda National Roads Authority –UNRA has maintained that police patrols must pay road toll charges whenever they use the Entebbe Expressway except when responding to emergencies.
This follows a crisis meeting convened by Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Stephen Tanui in response to numerous complaints lodged at several policing divisions the security situation along the expressway where thugs are attacking drivers in broad- day light.
During the meeting, Tanui questioned why Kajjansi, Entebbe, Nsangi and Katwe policing divisions had failed to deploy patrols to monitor the routes from Munyonyo to Kajjansi and to Busega. But, in response, the DPCs David Kamugira of Katwe, Komakech of Kajjansi and Kennedy Muhire of Entebbe said their hands are tied by the directive of the works and transport minister as well as UNRA that every vehicle accessing the expressway must pay a road toll.
After the meeting, Tanui delegated a team led by his deputy Paul Nkore to meet UNRA officials in charge of collecting the toll to explain to them that patrols need to be deployed to provide security to road users along the expressway. The team, which also comprised Kamugira, Muhire and Komakech informed UNRA that the patrols cannot pay road toll charges because they are providing a service to the public.
“We informed UNRA that we don’t have money to spend on providing security to Expressway users. But if our patrols are exempted from these charges, we are more than ready to protect the drivers from thugs. But they told us we must pay and we can only access the expressway after calling the toll fee top managers and giving details of an emergency we are going to respond to,” a senior police officer said.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango said that UNRA has only lessened the restriction to Kajjansi, Entebbe, Nsangi and Katwe policing divisions to intervene only when it is necessary.
Onyango said in the meeting, UNRA provided a telephone number that the four division DPCs can call to seek permission to deploy patrols along the expressway when there is an eventuality.
Although the police explanation to UNRA was that Pinnacle, a private security company hired to provide security to drivers seems to have failed, UNRA’s spokesperson, Allan Ssempebwa, said the one incident which has been brought to their attention cannot be used to say they have failed on their duties.
Ssempebwa said security along the expressway is very tight adding that the public needs to worry not because they have provided security apparatus to weed out crime on the Expressway.
“Indeed, the incident we had recently was one where someone over the Flyover reportedly threw a stone down to a motorist using the Expressway. We have engaged the Uganda Police to extend security to the areas like these where we have no control. Our operations are limited to the Expressway,” Ssempebwa said.
Ssempebwa added that they have also gone ahead to carry out community engagements to try and improve the security over the Flyover area but that is all they can do due to their limited mandate. Earlier, Gen Katumba Wamala, the works and transport minister had told URN that police wanted absolute access to the Expressway including their bosses something they declined.