Traders in Kasese district have appealed to government not to shut down markets in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the government continues to impose ever tighter restrictions on social interactions in an attempt to curtail the spread of the disease, some traders are worried about a possible closure of the market and what it could mean for their ability to provide for themselves.
Lidia Masika, a vendor at Mawa market, acknowledges that the often congested market has a high potential for the rapid spread of the novel Coronavirus. However, she begged government not to close it completely, but rather, provide safety guidelines that can allow them to keep operating and survive.
“For us, working in this market is survival. We earn our living from daily sales; we have nowhere else to go. Our appeal is for government intervention that keeps us and the public safe, but also leaves us operating,” Masika said.
Mary Tumushabe, another trader, noted that the conditions in the market are unsafe for business to continue without proper guidelines from government.
Sanitation materials urgently needed
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of Mawa Market Vendors Association in Kasese town, Richard Kimeze requested for government assistance in procuring hand washing materials and sanitizers for markets since they attract many people.
“As you can see here, we receive many people during market days on Monday and Thursday, and the number cannot be handled by the management of the market alone. We call for government’s intervention to save the situation,” Kimeze said.
He also observed the need for intensive sensitization on the need for hand washing since “majority of the people who come to the market are not used to the practice, making enforcement difficult, even when soap and water are provided.”
Albert Christopher Kabagambi, the Senior Health Inspector, Kasese Municipality, said that his department had distributed educational circulars to various places in a bid to increase public awareness and preparedness for the virus.
He also called for more stringent measures with regard to public transport.
”We need police to intervene in public transport by sanitizing the vehicles from point of departure to the destination. Also, the directive requiring only two passengers per seat instead of the usual four or five needs to be enforced immediately if we are to avoid spreading infections,” Kabagambe said.
Kasese Municipality Mayor, Godfrey Kabyanga, urged citizens to remain vigilant and cooperate with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health in order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
By press time, Uganda’s Ministry of Health had registered 9 confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus.