Residents of Fort Portal municipality are concerned about the increasing number of street children. They are worried that if left to loiter the streets, the children will turn out to be a security threat.
The presence of the children some of them aged 14-16 years has exposed the district and municipality’s failure to have programmes for vulnerable children.
The presence of the children in the town and some busy centers outside the municipality is common. The children spend the whole day and night in the town loitering and begging money and food from motorists, pedestrians, shops, restaurants and supermarkets.
They also threaten to harm those who refuse to give them money or food.
Vincent Kajura, an eleven year old says that he deserted his home after the death of both parents. He says that his uncles chased him from his father’s house and he has no where to go apart from the streets.
Kajura who is dressed in tattered clothes with dirty and unkempt hair says that he has been on the streets of Fort Portal for four months. He says that he survives through begging and eating leftovers from hotels in the town.
Anne Kazoba, a resident in Fort Portal town says that the municipality should remove the children from the streets or else they pose a threat to primary school girls. She says that some of the boys disturb the girls when they are returning from school
Mathias Agasa, a resident of Fort Portal town says that there is need for the municipality to relocate the children to a centre and provide them with basic needs. He says that if they are left on the streets, they will consume drugs turn into criminals.
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Hadijha Namyalo, the head of the child and family protection unit at Fort Portal Police station says that when the police rounds up some of the children, there is no place where to take them and as a result, they are forced to free them and they return to the streets.
She says that district community development department is not helping the police to relocate the children.
Shamillah Kakunguru, the district probation officer Kabarole says that the district has no place to take the children. She says that the department had planned to construct a children’s centre but the project stalled because of insufficient funds.
She says that in the next financial year, they plan to set up income generating projects like carpentry, metal wielding, poultry and piggery for the children, which will lure them off the streets.