As preparations for the New Year’s celebrations continue to across the country with hundreds of revelers planning to flock beaches, Uganda Police Force, has deployed its personnel there to ensure their safety.
During the 2015 Christmas festivities, Police found bodies of at least 13 people who drowned from different beaches in Entebbe, Wakiso district.
Now, Police say, to avoid a repeat of the tragedy which befell the country three years ago, strict guidelines have been set and must be adhered to, by beach owners and revelers themselves.
According to ASP Luke Owoyesigire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Police has deployed several officers from the Marine Unit to effect the set guidelines and ensure people’s safety on water.
Among the guidelines, children are not allowed in the lake and that nobody should be in the waters beyond 6pm. Police has also set a limit in the lake beyond which revelers should not reach.
ASP Owoyesigire said that Marines are already in coordination with managers of the beaches and will be present to effect the issued guidelines.
“We have deployed the marine unit to oversee all people who will be in the water, but also ensure that the beaches have the licence to have people swim, as well as ensuring existence of life jackets for people in water,” Owoyesigire told SoftPower News on Monday.
He said that Police will ensure availability of emergency services on all beaches to help people who may get problems.
A couple of days back, Police granted over 700 places in the country, permission to display fireworks, but with several conditions including a maximum timeline of 5 minutes for the fireworks display.
While some say 5 minutes is a short period, Police say, the move is only intended for their safety.
“We don’t set that time limit to inconvenience any person. In fact, in most cases many people evade our guidelines and display fireworks beyond the set time. But people forget that the sound produced by fireworks disrupts the rest, who may not be part of the celebrations,”
“Terrorists can as well take the advantage of their sound and execute their deadly missions. So, whoever will prolong the time for displaying fireworks from the set 5 minutes, will be answerable,” he warmed.
He said that all Police departments are on alert to respond to any cases of insecurity that may arise.
“These are not usual days and it is at times like this that security is very busy because, in Kampala alone, thousands of people go to different places of worship and recreational centres, yet, it is our responsibility to see that they all are safe,” Owoyesigire explained.
“All our departments like Traffic Police, Marine unit and counter terrorism are set to ensure security of Ugandans in not only Kampala, but the entire country,” he said.
Unlike other previous years, Police and other security agencies has not issued any terror alert ahead of the festive season.
Asked whether it is by design or the threats are no more, Owoyesigire said that, not alerting the public of possible terror threats doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
“Everyday as Police, we receive terrorism threats from within and outside the country. This is why all security agencies like Police, military, Internal and External Security Organisations operate 24 hours in a day to prevent them from being unleashed on the public,” he explained.
Meanwhile, thousands of people in the country are expected to grace numerous places of worship in the country as well as recreational centres to celebrate the New Year’s Day.