Kampala — Police have listed four hotspots for criminals targeting drivers and passengers in Kampala City.
The police spokesperson, Mr Emilian Kayima, named the Nsambya traffic lights, Northern Bypass, Namirembe Road and Clock Tower as the most dangerous places where criminals target drivers and passengers in traffic jams to snatch their electronic gadgets such as laptop computers and mobile phone handsets. Other valuable items the thieves target include jewelry, watches and wallets.
Detectives, said spokesman Kayima, register between 10 to 25 cases of drivers and passengers being stripped of their belongings at each of the hotspots. Police said criminals pretend to be manoeuvring through the traffic snarl up as a pretext to grab valuables from motorists, passengers and pedestrians.
"These criminals are many and very smart. They are able to see drivers making calls or whatsapping as they wait for green traffic lights. They grab the items and walk smartly to the opposite side," he said.
About 1,000 city dwellers have been robbed of their items over the past month, according to police estimates.
Mr Kayima explained that thugs at Northern Bypass place barricades in the middle of the road and demand for money from drivers. He said hesitant drivers are beaten, their items forcefully taken or vehicles vandalised.
"Northern Bypass and Entebbe Expressway have become deadly routes for drivers. We, therefore, caution drivers to be careful when using those routes much as they are faster for drivers dodging traffic jam," Mr Kayima said.
The two ring roads, parts of which are still under construction, were planned to convey traffic without entering the city centre. They have become preferred fast options for motorists.
In October police recorded more than 100 cases of motorists who had been robbed of their property by thugs suspected to be under the Boda Boda 2010 group.
Pupils and teachers of Winterland Primary School in Kyebando are some of the victims of Northern Bypass broad day robbery. The suspected Boda Boda 2010 waylaid the Costa transporting them on October 3 at 10am and beat up the children and their teachers after they refused to pay them Shs20,000.
Mr Kayima said police was engaging Kampala Capital City Authority and Uganda National Roads Authority to devise means of securing drivers using Northern Bypass and Entebbe Expressway.
Police said criminals do not only target cars but also boda boda riders and their passengers as well as pedestrians. The thugs, according to police, grab wallets and phones from passengers on motorcycles while pedestrians are usually punched before their items are taken.
"We have increased our presence of overt and covert officers to deal with these criminals. However, we also ask the drivers and passengers, including pedestrians to be vigilant and suspicious of anyone walking by their sides," Mr Kayima said.
Police said at least 70 suspects have been arrested in the last one month of which more than 40 have already appeared in courts and been remanded. The rest are still being interrogated.