While Uganda Police Force has always encouraged citizens to contact its toll-free emergency lines in case of emergencies – such as accidents and fire outbreaks, the lines are never attended to and those who try them are always disappointed, The Spear investigation Team has found out.
In principle, the helpline numbers – 999 and 112 – should have a 24-hour response team to respond to emergency reports and coordinate with relevant police departments for timely interventions to save life and property.
But the only response from the lines is: “all our command center agents are busy. Please hold the line for the next available agent.”
Little wonder there is delay in police response to emergencies. On many occasions, buildings have burnt to the ground before the fire rescue teams show up at the scene while in some more cases, innocent people have lost lives to mob justice just because police could not be reached in time to intervene.
Undercover SpearTeam reporters have been calling Police for a week and no one picked.
Clement Odur, a resident of Bunga is one of those who have tried the police helpline in vain.
“You have to have a police officer’s personal contact if you are to get any immediate attention,” he says.
Moreover, most of the officers possess UTL’s 071 contacts which are expensive to call.
But Kampala Metropolitan Police publicist Emilian Kayima bluntly denies the claims of helplines being so helpless.
“As far as I know, the numbers work and I have been to the call station; there is a lot of engagement going on,” he says.
He however admits that there could be possible technical disruptions.
With the helplines now dysfunctional, some people now contact the police via social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. However, not all Ugandans have access to, or know how to use these applications, leaving just a few citizens of the elite class to have access to police.