At the medals-giving ceremony at this year’s International Labour Day celebrations at Duhaga Secondary School grounds in Hoima Town last weekend, one recipient stood out from the crowd.
Former Inspector General of Police (IGP), was resplendent in celebration uniform with insignia of polished epaulets and sashes that signified the excellence that can be attached to the Uganda Police. He easily eclipsed his other security officers from the Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) and Prisons departments.
He retains this No 1. Ceremonial Uniform, even in retirement. At that rank, it is possible that also his other emoluments are equally represented. But many other lower rank and file Policemen and women will tell you that they are not equally recognized especially in retirement. They will tell you that they are not treated in gratitude of their dedication to national duty.
They will tell that they deserve to be treated like their colleagues, especially in the UPDF. Here, the soldiers are often promoted and then retired. This means that they will have their emoluments increased in line with their new ranks; and that the retirement package, the pension and gratuity are equally adjusted to reflect the exalted rank.
Not so in the Police. They are not given any hire ranks in retirement. Instead they may merely be sung, but officially unappreciated. This is unlike that in the UPDF. There are some other trappings that are accorded to them in retirement.
Such things may include transport allowance, and even actual transport, to take them with their families to their homes; in certain cases even their children benefit from the army continuing to pay the school fees for those who are still studying. In other ranks the officers even benefit from the Government giving them personal vehicles to assist them in their needs in retirement.
Some of the Police will tell you that these privileges are not accorded to them; and they feel miffed that they are segregated in this manner. They regard that the leadership in the country does not regard either them or their services as having been important to the nation.
In things like transportation, the Police are left to fend for themselves in going off to their village homes after retirement. And even when they are promised to be compensated for this, they take up to, sometimes, two years to get the transport allowance that was accorded to them. This, no doubt, is unsettling.
Often, the retired Police officers are people who have garnered a lot of experience and credentials in their line of duty. Some of this experience is invaluable if it were to be passed to younger generation in any other capacites of learning, and that may even go beyond the Police precincts.
These people would be useful instructors and teachers to the younger Ugandans who would then benefit from their experiences. This is not the case. These people are merely retired and they go and rot in the villages with their experiences. In the Police itself, what has happened is that the Government instead goes ahead to hire Chinese or North Korean personnel to do what the retired Police officers would in fact do better.
For these people to retire without adequate benefits and recognition demoralizes them to the extent that they have gone back to their villages and started to compete with the peasants to till the land which the peasants are more good at.
In the process these retirees fend worse than the villagers, with the result that the villagers start to denigrate and look down upon them as people who went to waste their time in employment instead of having stayed in the villages and acquired similar agricultural experience as befitting the village.
The complaint of these Policemen cannot be only confined to them as retirees. There are other categories of Civil Servants, whose experience is similar to the complaints that the Policemen are handing out. Other former officers in whatever categories have undergone a host of the experiences that should make the Government to look into these complaints and amend the way they handle the retirees.
For all intents and purposes, these people have done and contributed to the Gross National Product in the respective activities they did for the nation and this should be duly appreciated. It should be across the board and not only to some other departments in the Government.