Tension was high in Kampala city center Monday afternoon when security forces carried out a joint operation to arrest scrap dealers suspected of selling copper wires stolen from electrical installations and masts.
Officers from the Field Force Police, Crime Intelligence and Criminal Investigations Directorate raided shops at Shamba Complex, Kisenyi, Owino Complex, New Park Mall, Nakitende Village, Usafi Market, Mwanga II Road, Musajja Alumbwa and Muzaana Road.
The operation led to the arrest of 30 scrap dealers suspected to be selling stolen copper wires.
Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, says the operation was prompted by the increasing cases of vandalism from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL), Uganda Telecomm Company (UTL), National Water and Sewage Cooperation (NWSC), Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) and contractors at Karuma hydro-power dam.
He said they targeted particular areas based on intelligence indicating that they harbor people involved in the vandalism.
“These are some of the places where our intelligence picked information that they were aiding these suspects who were involved in vandalizing electric wires, copper wires, pylons and so on,” Enanga said.
Police have promised to screen the suspects, saying those without clear documentation of the merchandise recovered from their premises will be taken to courts of law.
Police believes arresting the dealers will disorganize the cartel behind the vandalism since there will be no substantive market for the stolen materials.
Some of the suspects, according to UETCL siphon fuel from transformers at substations thus making people spend hours without power.
This operation comes a fortnight after Uganda People’s Defense Force –UPDF, Military Police, CI, CID and FFU conducted an operation targeting dealers of suspected stolen motorcycles, motor vehicles and phones. At least 350 people were arrested.
However, only 208 remained after screening. More than 140 motorcycles, 2500 phones and were confiscated from dealers, some of whom have already appeared in court.