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Adults Pouring into Street Life in Soroti

One of the street dwellers identified as Ochen has been in Soroti town for the last seven months. The 19- year-old has neither a house to return to nor any genuine work to earn money for survival.
Napak girls destined for Jinja stuck in Soroti.

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A new trend of street dwellers is emerging in Soroti Municipality with adults pouring onto the streets. The adults that seem to be preoccupied during day scavenge the streets throughout the night looking for food and accommodation.    

Thanks to businesses that operate through the night, a good number mixes with night revelers around Town Talks-Opposite Pioneer Primary School and along the main streets where Kampala bound Buses Park.    

Others spend nights around business hubs along Serere, Lira and Moroto roads; in corridors and Public Gardens. Some of the street dwellers camp around Boda- boda stages building friendship with cyclists who give them their bikes to ride after developing a little trust.  

One of the street dwellers identified as Ochen has been in Soroti town for the last seven months. The 19- year-old has neither a house to return to nor any genuine work to earn money for survival. Ochen, who requested to remain anonymous, says he is better off in town than his village with his relatives. 

“I resorted to town after losing all my parents in the villages under mysterious circumstances. My relatives have been so rude to us and their major interest is land. As far as I’m concerned, I will, God willing, return to that village when I have the ability to protect myself fully”, the teary town dweller said.

URN found two girls at Kakise Bus offices from Napak district. They were on their way to Jinja but had run out of transport fare. The girls, who only identified themselves as Nakiru and Nangiro, said that they were looking for work to help raise transport to their destination.

“We boarded from Matany to this place but we cannot continue because the money we had wasn’t enough for our journey”, they said. When asked why they resorted to a journey without enough cash, the duo said it was the only opportunity to escape from their village since security is tight on movements outside Karamoja.

 

Residents are worried that the new entrants might pose a security threat to businesses and peace in the municipality. Moses Okalany, a resident of Soroti Municipality, says some of the street dwellers are drug addicts and are involved in crimes like thefts.    

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Michael Odongo, the East Kyoga Regional Police Spokesman wants government to find a comprehensive rehabilitation program to help settle people from the streets. He notes that as police, they have conducted several operations to round up street children but are challenged with their custody and prosecution since some are teens.

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Paul Omer, the Mayor Soroti Municipality says they are doing their best to ensure that the issue of children on the streets is handled and addressed properly.

“If they are on the streets without causing havoc, we will have no problem because people want to be in town but the moment they engage in criminal activities, we shall deal with them”, he said on phone.

Last year, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development secured Shillings 3.4 billion to help address the issues of street children but local government leaders claim that the money isn’t enough to resettle the children.