By Weswa Ronnie
Local leaders in Mbale city have blamed security for not doing enough in curbing down the current increased criminality caused by idle youths.
Currently in Mbale city center, it’s risky for someone to move during night time from 9.pm onwards without being targeted by a gang of idle youths. The hot-spots have been identified as Naboa road behind Bam shopping center, Bishop Wasike road near CRO offices, Manafwa road, Taxi Park, and Pallisa road.
Silaji Luledi, the LCI chairperson of Lwakhakha Cell, Industrial city division said he receives over ten cases especially of theft and rape committed by these idle youths who sit in dark spots.
The LCI added that the youths target customers who come to buy commodities at shops near where they sit and smoke their marijuana, and also people going home from work. The idlers snatch phones and bags from their victims and even rape women.
One of the area councilors who preferred anonymity stated that on several occasions as local leaders they have arrested a good number of these youths and taken them to Mbale central police station but in a few days they are released.
He also said that whenever they come back from police cells, they continue from where they ended, sometimes threatening to harm local leaders.
The councilor also added that this has weakened them in terms of fighting the criminal gangs since their lives are under threat moreover after being arrested they are never punished.
‘’On several occasions we have tried writing letters to the Resident City commissioner’s office about these insecurity threats, but it has not responded appropriately,’’ one of the local leaders said.
Yusufu Magai, one of the mobile money agent operators along Naboa road says his business is at risk of being robbed by these idle youths since he operates near them revealing that they have attempted to rob him three times.
Mr. Magai added that the insecurity threat has made the number of his customers to dwindle because majority who come fear to pull out money for fear of being followed by some of these idlers.
Annet Namono, also operating a shop along Bishop Wasike Road, says that she has lost lots of her property in the shop worth three hundred thousand shillings to the youth gangs.
She said ‘’ it seems some big people from Mbale city are behind these youths because they openly tell business people working there that they can’t report them anywhere.’’
Mrs. Namono urged concerned security people to arrest these youths since they are causing insecurity in the city and not making them to progress well in business yet they pay rent.
Ahamed Washikie, the Resident City Commissioner of Mbale City [RCC] has urged those local leaders to go to his office and follow up letters they claim to have written to his office.
Mr. Washakie said that security starts with local leaders meaning they should work together in order to bring order in the city rather than blaming security.
Rogers Taitika, the Elgon region police spokesperson said security has tried all means to bring the city in order with an operation carried out last week on idle youths.
He added that the operation was at notorious spots like Nkoma, Pallisa road, Taxi Park, Bishop Wasike road and at Naboa where over 50 idle youths they suspect to have been involved in criminal activities were arrested. He revealed further that the arrested youths were found with stolen phones, iron bars, hammers among others used for breaking into people’s shops and used to commit crimes.
‘’Those suspects are currently detained at Malukhu prison on remand and the operation is going to continue, locals should stay calm.” Mr Taitika said.
The PRO also urged people to desist from operating and moving in dark areas during night time such that they cannot be targeted by these criminals.