KAMPALA —Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has resumed its campaign against outdoor community broadcasting using makeshift equipment commonly known as bizindalo or megaphones.
In a crackdown last week, a UCC enforcement team raided parts of Mbuya, Kirinya-Bukasa, Kyebando, Kiwanga, Lugala and Namalere-Kasangati, demolishing illegal megaphone towers and confiscating amplifies and mixers.
In consultation with the Ministry of Health, the outlawed “bizindalo” broadcasting was accorded temporary authorisation to operate in April 2020, to complement mainstream broadcasters in facilitating greater awareness and sensitisation about the COVID-19 pandemic at the grassroots.
With the temporary authorisation having elapsed, UCC has resumed enforcement of compliance with the provisions of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 prohibiting the provision of communications services without a license.
In Namalere on March 9, 2021, one Mwebe was arrested and detained at Jinja Police Station after he allegedly instigated a mob to resist the operation by attacking the UCC enforcement officers.
The mob was protesting the action taken against Mwebe’s outdoor broadcasting operation, claiming it carried very important messages for the community, including COVID-19 containment protocols and other Government programmes.
The said Mr. Mwebe is to be prosecuted for defying lawful orders.
A member of the UCC enforcement team explained that in addition to enforcing the law, the Commission is responding to widespread concerns about noise pollution and interruption of public order.
“We have received numerous complaints from concerned residents countrywide about Bizindalo in their areas. They are normally played at uncomfortable hours, in the night and sometimes very early morning, so we had to step in,” he said, adding that the exercise is continuing.
Bizindalo customers are charged Shs 2,000 -10,000 for every advert aired. The most common adverts include announcements for the dead, missing persons, herbal medicine and lost goods.