By Innocent Anguyo
FINANCIAL woes have forced Makerere University to terminate the contract of a group of highly trained guards comprised of returnees from war-ravaged Iraq and Afghanistan.
The guards were deployed to avert terror at the university on a two year contract. Police said the guards were expected to stay at Makerere for as long as two years.
According to police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba, the guards were positioned at Makerere late last year after security intelligence established that terrorists were targeting the institution.
However, the head of Makerere University security, Jackson Mucunguzi on Wednesday said the institution could no longer afford the wages of the guards, subsequently relieving them of their duties, effective April 01.
“In a recent management meeting, the university resolved that it was costly to maintain the guards. It was decided that their contracts be terminated at the end of March,” explained Mucunguzi.
The head of the guards who numbered 40, Andrew Kasirye Giita said they were paid between sh15,000 and sh20,000 per day. Meaning, Makerere spent at least sh18m on the wages of the guards every month.
Mucunguzi expressed worry that the termination of the contract of the 40 could escalate crime and make policing of the entire institution hard. During the day, Makerere’s population stands at over 50,000.
“These guards have been resourceful in averting terror at the university. Now that thieves know that the guards will not conduct night patrols, insecurity may increase at campus,” said Mucunguzi.
No sooner had the guards stopped policing the campus yesterday than the ICT Control Room in the new block at the College of Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) was raided of three projectors and a CCTV screen.
The projectors were used for conducting lectures while the CCTV screen was used to monitor security in the building.
Police said the theft was “an insider job.” “I suspect that the items were stolen by someone or some people who know their location. They first stole the CCTV monitor for monitoring security before taking the projectors,” said Mucunguzi.
Makerere police said detectives will obtain finger prints from all staff who work in the building as investigations into the theft heap on.
CoCIS spokesperson Maria Muzaaki confirmed the theft but said “the theft of the projectors has not affected lectures because we have many,” said Muzaaki.
This is the second time items have been stolen at the college in five months. Late last year, just before the “elite guards” began work, computers were also stolen by “insiders” at CoCIS.
Mucunguzi has written to the University management, asking Makerere to allow him to recruit at least 200 permanent guards on top of the 30 police officers already at his disposal.
Makerere already has 100 private security guards on its payroll but Mucunguzi said most of them are too old and yet the job requires energetic persons.
He also noted that most of the private guards lack the academic credentials required for conducting investigations in an intellectually-vibrant place like Makerere.
“Most of the private guards are Primary two and three drop outs. We need to recruit professional guards instead,” reiterated Mucunguzi. These guards, police said are paid about sh350, 000 per month.
The private guards said though most of them are aged, they are better placed to fight crime at Makerere because they “understand the university more than outsiders,”