ARUA. Bus managers in Arua town have expressed worry over the increasing cases of theft targeting their passengers.
Several passengers, mainly from Kampala, the Ugandan capital, have ended up being beaten and at times stripped naked before losing their property including money and other valuable items to a group of organized thugs operating along Hospital Road in Arua town.
According to Mr Salim Abdallah, the Baby Coach Bus Manager, the thugs operate in groups of not less than five people mostly from 4:30Am to 6:30Am (East African Time) when buses from Kampala arrive in Arua town.
The targeted buses are Baby Coach, KK Traveller, Gaagaa Coach and California Bus.
“When these buses arrive, the thugs also take their positions along Hospital Road disguising as passengers with empty bags on their backs. Once they see you coming, one of them quickly goes in front before others follow to rob you. That is how they have terrorized our passengers,” Abdallah narrated during an interview on Monday.
“This happens almost daily. One of our passengers came back to the bus terminal half naked crying after he was robbed of shs3m at about 5:40Am on Saturday morning,” Abdallah said, adding that recently, an Army officer attached to Arua Army Barracks was robbed of sh600, 000 and the same applies to some police officers.
Abdallah noted that they have reported several cases of theft against their passengers at Arua Central Police Station (CPS) but to their surprise, police continues crying of lack of man power.
“It is true that our passengers are not safe and this worries us so much. We normally try to advise our passengers to stay at the bus terminal until the day breaks but some of them don’t heed to our advise, saying they are on hurry and that is how they end up being robbed on the way,” said Mr Joseph Olung Pombel, the Arua KK Taveller Bus Manager.
Pombel said as a company, they have now resorted to exposing some of the thieves by displaying their pictures on notice boards besides passing continuous messages of awareness to passengers before and after boarding their buses.
Pombel observed that the recent incident of theft occurred on Sunday morning when one of their passengers lost his bag containing a Laptop and other valuable items to thugs along the same street. He said the case was reported to police of Arua, who are now tracing the whereabouts of the thugs.
But Mr Abbas Senyonjo, the Arua District Police Commander (DPC) said: “We don’t have the man power to stage police officers on Hospital Road to wait for the bag snatchers every day. The only thing those managers can do is to alert us whenever they sight such thugs so that we can divert mobile police officers to arrest the situation.”
Senyonjo said for now, they only rely on the mobile police, who are all over patrolling the town and other parts of Arua.
He, however, promised to continue liaising with the various bus managers to find a lasting solution to the problem.