Hundreds of farmers continue to flock Kabundaire farmers market in Kabarole district in defiance of social distancing measures instituted to stem the spread of the novel Coronavirus.
Among several measures announced by President Yoweri Museveni in the fight against Coronavirus included the suspension of weekly or monthly markets.
Established food markets were allowed to continue operating on condition that they enforced a social distancing of at least four metres between individuals.
However, on a recent visit to Kabundaire farmers market in Kabarole, theCooperator observed both farmers and their customers milling about the packed market by the hundreds.
Although farmers and buyers wash hands before entering the market, no consideration is given to recently issued health guidelines on spacing between individuals.
Emmanuel Bitalabe, a Community Rehabilitation Officer in Kabundaire farmers market feels that in failing to decongest the market, local leaders had failed to do their job.
“At first, our leaders had put measures to regulate entry and exit of people into the market in order to avoid congestion, but now people are entering as if they are going into a beehive,” Bitalabe said.
Bitalabe is worried that continued breach of the directive on social distancing may result in closure of the market. Such an outcome, he believes, would be a disaster for locals who depend on it for food. Instead, he called for the president’s directives to be enforced more strictly.
“If government closes this market, we shall suffer a lot because we have been coming here to buy food and most vendors also buy from here. I appeal to government to enforce the social distance guidelines before the situation gets out of hand,” he said.
Kabarole deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Festus Bandeeba said they have been sensitising people in markets to keep a distance of four metres, with limited success.
“What you tell them not to do today is what they do tomorrow,” he said.
Bandeeba warned that tougher action will soon be taken to enforce the measures adopted against the spread of COVID-19 spread.
“We cannot be quiet as people continue to disregard the rules because that would put the country at risk. When one person is infected, it puts everyone at risk.”
Responding to concerns about overcrowding at the market, the Chairperson Kabundaire market Idi Mubaraka Kasoke vowed that market leadership would soon come up with a strategy to resolve the matter.
“Though the space we have is a bit small, we shall work tooth and nail to ensure that people keep a distance in order to prevent the spread of the disease,” he promised.