By Rogers Wanambwa
KIU, Main Campus - The communications sector regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has started dismantling Community audio towers, commonly known as Bizindalo, that have been operating illegally countrywide.
This comes after UCC directed all ”community radios” broadcasting through megaphones to cease operations with immediate effect and pull down their apparatus.
According to the head of the enforcement team, Kenneth Sseguya, they have managed to demolish megaphone towers and confiscate amplifiers and mixers during a crackdown that started on Tuesday 9th March, at Mbuya, Kirinya-Bukasa and Kyebando before being extended to Kiwanga —Mukono, Lugala-Masanafu and Namalere-Kasangati on Wednesday 10th March.
Besides, in Namalere, one of the Bizindalo operators, Mwabe, was arrested and detained at Jinja Police Station after he allegedly commanded a mob to lynch UCC enforcement officers.
The mob was protesting against an operation to close down an illegal operator who they claimed had been passing very important messages including Coronavirus containment protocols and other government programmes.
Sseguya said they managed to confiscate Mwebe’s amplifier and mixer but left the megaphone on the pole over chaos, adding that Mwebe, the owner of the apparatus, will be prosecuted for defying lawful orders.
“The exercise is being conducted because it is illegal under the UCC act for anyone to provide communication services without a license,” he said.
“We have received numerous complaints from concerned residents countrywide about bizindalo operations in their areas. They are normally played at uncomfortable hours, in the night, early hours and even during the morning hours…so we had to rain in as the sector regulator and pull them down,” he added.
He said the exercise is still ongoing and it will be countrywide.
The community radios charge from UGX.2000 to UGX10,000 per advert and they engage in sending messages that include death, missing persons, herbal medicines and lost goods among others.
In Kiwunga where “Voice of Kiwunga” was dismantled, the owner claimed that UCC is taking away their sole source of income without giving them an alternative.
UCC explained that the ”community radios” were working in contravention of the Uganda Communications Commission Act which prohibits persons from installing or operating radios, television or broadcasting apparatus without a license from the body.