Uganda: Govt Sets New Terms for Arcades to Reopen

Individuals operating businesses in Kampala City have to meet a number of stringent new conditions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 as they reopen today.

This follows the easing of the lockdown by the President last Friday.

The new conditions were issued by the Minister for Kampala and her deputy last Saturday at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.

In her remarks, Ms Misi Kabanda, the Minister for Kampala Affairs, said the city is very congested, especially the business operating venues including arcades, malls, markets as well as taxi and bus parks, hence the need for more sensitisation.

"If we don't comply with the guidance of the President and Ministry of Health, we shall still go back to the lockdown, something, we would not like because of the effects it has on the economy," she said.

Downtown business areas

In his speech, the President allowed Kikuubo, a renowned wholesale hub in downtown Kampala to reopen but under strict restrictions including having all kiosks operating in the corridors removed and banning of roadside vending within the centre.

However, Ms Kabanda urged traders operating in the city centre not to reopen businesses yet unless they are cleared.

"We have received messages that some places including big arcades and those in Kikuubo are already opening. These places should not open today or tomorrow. They should wait a bit. First, we have to issue each operator with a certificate of compliance after having met all the necessary requirements before they open," Ms Kabanda said.

She added: "And, the opening will be in a phased manner because we need to first talk to both the traders and arcade owners on how to proceed during the following days."

Similarly, Mr Kyofatogabye Kabuye, the State Minister for Kampala Affairs, discouraged traders from showing up in town today.

"Please, do not come to Kikuubo. We don't want you to tempt our enforcement team. We shall inform you when to come. Give us five days [to handle crucial issues before opening]," Mr Kabuye said. Mr Kabuye added that it was important for the team to come up with these proposals to simplify the directives made by President Museveni.

"We are developing a checklist for levels of compliance in all these malls, arcades and other business centres which will be followed by a meeting with all the stakeholders," Mr Kabuye said.

Mr Kabuye said Kikuubo and other shopping areas in town, may be considered to reopen on Saturday.

Transport in Kampala

Meanwhile, Mr Fred Byamukama, the State Minister in-charge of Transport gave more guidance on public transport including taxis, buses, water vessels, and railway services.

"Transportation is also another key contributor to Covid-19 hence the need to foster self-regulation and other measures," Mr Byamukama said.

Mr Byamukama warn taxi operators against taking advantage of the situation to hike transport fares.

"I am warning them (taxi drivers) to stop indirectly cheating Ugandans. The original prices should be maintained," he said.

Mr Byamukama said intelligence officers will be on ground to do surveillance and if an operator is found guilty, security personnel will be involved to help resolve the issue.

Mr Museveni, in his Friday address, re-emphasised that public transport should operate at 50 per cent capacity if they are to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

As of Friday last week, the country had registered 93,927 cumulative confirmed cases of Covid-19, 83,115 recoveries and 2,690 deaths.

Bribes

Stories in the past have emerged of enforcement officers soliciting bribes from traders and other business people in exchange for favours. The practice has been discouraged by the city officials.

"If we discover money exchanging hands illegally, we shall apprehend both the trader and the officer," Ms Kabanda warned.

The professionalism of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) law enforcement officers has previously been questioned following accusations of soliciting bribes from traders and other business people in exchange of favours.

Reactions

Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview, Mr Issa Ssekitto, the Kampala City Traders' Association (Kacita) spokesperson, said it is a mistake to use the lockdown to rectify what went wrong in the city.

"This is because buildings already do not have the proper sanitation, ventilation and the would-be walkways are narrow because traders have turned them into small shops. These are structural concerns that should have been previously and gradually corrected by the KCCA enforcement," Mr Ssekitto said.

Mr Ssekitto stressed that traders should be allowed to operate while observing the required SOPs.

"Blocking people from working is going to make them turn violent," Mr Ssekitto warned.

Mr Mustafa Muyambala, the leader of taxi drivers in Kampala, said they are happy to be back on the road because the situation was very tough for them during lockdown.

"My fellow taxi drivers were very delighted after the President allowed us to work again because things were very difficult for most of us during the lockdown," Mr Muyambala said.

Conditions to reopen

-Traders urged not to go to work until August 7 when the authorities are satisfied that all the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and compliance are in place. Businesses will also be opened after a compliance certificate has been issued.

-Kikuubo kiosks should be removed to decongest pathways.

-Roadside vending within Kikuubo banned.

-Corridors and access ways to be cleared while adequate ventilation is emphasised.

-Landlords should install CCTV cameras.

-Proper hygiene and sanitation should be enforced in arcades, malls and other shopping centres.

-Temperature screening facilities put in different access points of arcades and malls.

-Private vehicles will be allowed to operate with a maximum of only three passengers including the driver.

-All persons in the car should wear face masks.

-Riders should carry only one passenger at a time.

-Both rider and passenger should wear facemasks

- Boda boda riders should often disinfect their motorcycles and jackets prior to the trip.

-Riders should often move with sanitisers which passengers can use before sitting on the motorcycle

- Social distancing should be observed in taxis and buses. -Taxis and buses should only operate within designated parks.

- All taxi parks should have hand washing facilities with disinfectants for passengers and other persons within the parks.

- Temperatures of passengers taken before boarding.

- Touting (loudly calling out for passengers) is not allowed.

- The passenger train should have half passengers' capacity and ensure that passengers seat at least two metres apart

- Passengers and crew should at all times wear masks.

- Passengers wash hands or sanitise their hands and have their temperatures taken and recorded before boarding the train.

- All coaches should be disinfected at every end of the trip

- Ferries and boats should carry half the licensed passenger capacity.

- Passengers and crew members should at all times wear masks covering nose and mouth

- The crew should ensure that all passengers wash hands or sanitise hands before boarding the vessel.

-Both passengers and crew members should have their temperatures taken and recorded before embarking on the vessels.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.

X