The State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mario Obiga Kania, has lamented that forensics scientists are leaving the country due to a high global demand for their skills.
Obiga Kania was meeting MPs on Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, 31 October 2019 who had invited him as the political head overseeing the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratories.
The MPs were concerned about issues relating to underfunding, understaffing and high turnover at the directorate.
Obiga Kania revealed that owing to low salaries and failure by government to enhance pay, forensics experts have left for greener pastures.
“We have observed that the phased salary enhancement of scientists across public service has not been fully implemented and this affects our ability to retain our scientists,” he added.
The MPs, led by Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga also noted that the regional laboratories in Mbale, Mbarara, Moroto and Gulu are grossly understaffed and this affects laboratory analysis.
The legislators were disturbed by the revelation that two of the regional laboratories in Mbarara and Moroto are manned by only one person each at the level of office attendant; the Mbale lab has two personnel.
Mr Kepher Kuchana, the Head of the Directorate of Government Analytical Laboratories admitted to the gross understaffing noting that they do not have enough people to analyse the exhibit samples that they receive.
“We do not have scientists in Mbarara, Moroto and Mbale so our office attendant can only manage to receive and store samples,” he said.
Hon. Mathias Mpuuga was particularly irked by the potential contamination of exhibits owing to poor handling by office attendants.
“How sure are we that these office attendants are conversant with handling these exhibits without compromising them?” he asked.
But Kuchana said, “samples and exhibits are handled by Police at the scene of crime as well as CID officers who have received the necessary training.”
Kuchana noted that the Directorate needs Ushs1.2 billion to fill the approved human resource structure adding that out of the approved structure of 124 positions, only 50 are filled.
He also stated that the Ministry of Internal Affairs had in 2017 written to the Ministry of Public Service requesting for Ushs8.3 billion to enhance salaries so as to motivate staff at the Directorate but to date, only Ushs572 million had been provided.
Mpuuga further noted that before any salary enhancements are done the Directorate should ensure that proper recruitment is done. He demanded for a recruitment plan from the directorate.
The Director of Human Resource in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Proscovia Babirye, told the committee that the directorate had a three year recruitment plan to fill all positions if Ushs300 million is availed every year.