6 February 2013

Uganda: Thugs Terrorise Arcade Business Community

A squad of thugs is terrorising business people operating at city arcades with at least a break-in being executed every week.

The latest break-in was at MM Plaza owned by Mansoor Matovu aka Yanga. One of the victims, Michael Kinene, said thugs broke into his photo studio and stole his cameras. Aggrieved business people are blaming arcade owners for not providing enough security on the premises.

"The problem is the premises that have only one security guard who cannot watch over the entire building. Thieves take advantage of this and break into our shops. We have complained to the owner of the building but he does not care because each week there is a break-in and nothing is done about it," Kinene lamented.

He said the issue has severally been raised with the owner of the building and the Police but they don't care. "We once caught someone who had stolen merchandise from one of the shops and we took him to the Police but he was later released," he added.

When contacted for comment, Matovu Yanga said he would meet the traders and chart a way forward regarding security matters.

Yanga also promised to deploy sniffer dogs at the premises. The shops that have so far been broken into include Edit City, Cinetex Studio and Bol Media from which studio equipment worth over sh5m was stolen. Arcades that have become hunting ground for the thugs include Zainab Aziiza, Namaganda and the busy downtown shopping centre of Kikuubo.

Nasifu Mukiibi was also a victim of the break-ins

Arcade owners don't care - Police

The Police have however put the blame squarely on arcade owners for not making security paramount giving thugs an open play field. The Kampala central police station commander James Ruhweza said an arcade is supposed to be guarded by not less than three policemen but some stubborn owners insist on only one.

"You will find one policeman guarding a building that houses more than 30 shops," Ruhweza said.

He said Kampala Central has over 500 commercial buildings with most of them lacking security. He said in most cases such situations lead business people to riot like was the case last year when traders operating at Yanga's building demonstrated over break-ins

"The Police's job is to patrol the streets in Kampala because it is difficult to provide security for every building. Arcade owners harvest billions of money each month yet they cannot provide security for their tenants," he said.

However, some arcade owners confided in this reporter that the thieves are amongst the traders themselves.

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