The Uganda Police Force has installed 359 Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in Kampala over the last three months as part of the first phase of the National safe city CCTV project. The project is part of a government strategy to fight urban crime and beefing up security in Kampala Metropolitan area.
The cameras so far installed, cover the areas of Rubaga and some parts of Kawempe Division on the outskirts of Kampala. They include Fixed Cameras, rotational Pan Tilt Zoom-PTZ cameras, facial recognition and Number plate Recognition cameras.
The PTZ Cameras will be placed at strategic high points and roundabouts to capture all directions while the Fixed Zoom Cameras will be placed along major highways and main roads. The vehicle recognition cameras will be mainly on high ways while Facial recognition cameras will be stationed in unique places like ministries, churches and selected places in downtown Kampala.
The cameras are powered by a feed that transmits images and videos through cables to a specific server created by the National Information Technology Authority-NITA Uganda. The Authority is providing high speed connectivity for the CCTV network over the National Data Transmission Backbone Infrastructure.
The Acting Police Director for ICT Felix Baryamwisaki is optimistic that the cameras will aid investigation and enhance surveillance in areas around the capital city where more crimes have been recorded over the years. He says that real time footage will be accessible to different police units.
The government is planning to install 3,233 Cameras in the districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono. It is also in the process of setting up temporally command centers at Nateete Police Building, Central Police Station building and Naguru Police headquarters. Up to 400 billion Shillings is needed to construct a National CCTV Command Center at Naguru.
The temporary command center which is housed in a room on the fourth floor of the Nateete Police building covers a space of 12 meters by 6 meters with 21 desktop computers and a wide wall screen viewing different cameras.
It was launched today by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni at Nateete Police Building. During the launch, the president stated that the project will enhance supervision of police officers during operations as well as their response to crime.
In a statement, Museveni warned assassins, saying: “The problem of urban insecurity perpetuated by armed assassins riding boda bodas will be solved. What we needed were eyes, ears and a nose to sense them. It’s what the cameras will do. Once we see these criminals, we shall get them.
This problem is not as complex as fighting a war for example. It is an issue of intelligence. We just need to know who did what. Once we know, these thugs cannot resist us. The game will be finished. Cowards die many times before their death.”
At the time of the launch, there were 21 police officers, 3 Chinese experts and four other civilian IT experts in the command center all walking barefooted on the carpeted floor with their shoes left out of the room whose access required a fingerprint identification.
The Minister of Security Elly Tumwine says that even the lack of street lighting in various places will not affect the functioning of Cameras which have an infrared feature.
The second phase of the project which is supposed to begin in June 2019 will be for trenching, networking and installing Cameras on highways, Municipalities and small towns across the Country.
Police are also in the process of talking with owners of commercial places like arcades, shopping malls and hotels to allow the Directorate of ICT tap into their CCTV cameras and be able to link them to the National CCTV project, according to Baryamwisaki.
The government has been pushing for the implementation of National CCTV project since March 2017 when Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi was gunned down in Kulambiro, a suburb of Kampala together with his driver Geoffrey Wambewo and his body Guard Kenneth Erau.
On that day, President Museveni issued an order for police to set up CCTV Cameras across the Country. The project which is said to cost 458 billion Shillings began to see light in June 2018 when Huawei technologies Limited was contracted. The Ministry of Finance has so far released 60 billion Shillings for the implementation of the first phase of the project.
Additional reporting by URN