The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, has intimated to fellow army man Gen. Salim Saleh that his Force is looking for buyers to buy the prime 58.9 hectares where Nsambya barracks sits,the biggest police barracks in east and central Africa.
Speaking during a visit to Kapeeka, Nakaseke District where Gen. Saleh oversees the Operation Wealth Creation program, Kayihura said he was waiting for an investor to bring a favourable offer.
He said: “Government has allowed us lease the land out and use the money to build accommodation facilities for our expanding force. We are relocating the barracks to a more secure neighbourhood outside Kampala using our own Police construction brigade.”
“For now, we are waiting for investors,” he added.
An earlier plan by the Government to give the Police land flopped when it emerged the investor did not have the money to provide alternative accommodation but only wanted it free to build hostels.
Highly placed sources in government have revealed that now some prospective Chinese investors were heaping pressure on the authorities to get contracts.
TheUgandan understands that Government valuers finished work on the Nsambya Police Barracks land before bids are invited from prospective investors to relocate it in exchange for the prime piece of land.
Sources said the Government had proposed that the barracks be relocated within the grounds of its current location amidst civilian residential houses.
The proposal also noted that rehabilitating the current dilapidated structures may cost as much as building new ones.
The proposal also took into account the fact that the barracks, believed to be one of the largest in Africa, is now overcrowded with staff living under squalid conditions.
Housing units which were designed for one family now accommodate three to four families.
Toilets, mortuaries, leisure centres and stores have over the years been converted into residences.
But the Nsambya Police Barracks land that belongs to Kampala Archdiocese.
Three years ago, the Church accused the police of defaulting on ground rent arrears totalling $74.5 million (Shs 188.7 billion) for a period of 43 years.
The Kampala Archdiocese Land Board on May 7 2014 wrote to the Uganda Land Commission (ULC) and Justice ministry, saying the lease has since been cancelled and instructions are to “seek vacant possession” through eviction and “compensation if necessary” at a later date.
While the police had 53 years remaining on the lease, the archdiocese wants them to pay arrears for the arrangement to be reinstated.
Until today, the Church indicates that police “seems not interested” in resolving the matter.
Why Kayihura needs to act fast
Critical shortage of housing units is causing operational challenges and indiscipline among the officers.
Police management says the barracks had been congested by widows, widowers, private security guards and adult relatives of police officers.
Gen Kayihura, recently said there is a planned housing policy that largely involves building 10,000 new housing units to modern standards under a private public partnership scheme.
The shortage has been exacerbated by continued recruitment of 5,000 police constables every two years. Accommodation shortage has shot above 60 per cent from 51 per cent in 2010. Now three families have to share a unit. In 2010, two families occupied one unit. Police strength is at the moment estimated at around 43,000-45,000 officers.
Despite the accommodation shortage, police have been demolishing barracks, the two biggest police barracks in Uganda.
Part of the land was given to Justice Law and Sector Order to construct buildings for different organs in the law and order sector. Another piece of land was given to International Olympic Committee to construct a sports facility.
The evicted officers were relocated to other barracks that were already overcrowded.