Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) has threatened to close more than 50 arcades within the city centre over persistent non-compliance to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by government as a pre-condition for reopening of business premises in Kampala.
To enforce compliance to the SOPs, the KCCA Directorate of Public Health has given arcade operators and owners a 7-day grace period to either comply with the new rules regulating their operations or risk being sanctioned by the authorities under the Public Health act.
The measure comes in the wake of a recent upsurge of COVID-19 cases in the country, with a significant percentage recorded in the capital, Kampala.
“We (government) have noticed gross non-adherence to the SOPs in public transport and the workplaces, including the arcades which we believe has accounted for the increase in number of the cases in Kampala,” the Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan affairs, Hon. Betty Amongi acknowledged.
Amongi said that due to the increased incidences of COVID-19 within Kampala and the surrounding areas, cabinet might consider potential lockdown of the city if the spread of the virus is not well managed.
A recent inspection by the KCCA COVID-19 task force identified non-compliance by 58 city arcades as one of the major loopholes that might be contributing to the spread.
These arcades include Vienna Business Centre, Mini Price Centre, Boost Complex, Tropical Complex, Arro complex, Senna arcade, Naiga Chambers and Masaka Jubilee, all along Ben Kiwanuka Street. Other arcades are located along Rashid Khamis Road, Wilson Street and Luwum Street, among others.
The KCCA Director of Public Health and Environment, Dr. Daniel Okello Ayen said that at the time of inspection, these 58 arcades still had weak areas that they needed to rectify in order to fully comply with the standards, including observing social distancing, hand washing, having functional toilets and a good ventilation system.
Okello revealed that as of August 20, Kampala had 394 cases of COVID-19 infections, accounting for over 22.5% of total infections and majority of registered COVID-19 deaths in the country.
The Minister for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs urged the public to avoid arcades where possible, and immediately report any suspected cases of the virus.
“The public transport managers must also ensure that all buses and taxi operators observe the SOPs. If we don’t change our behaviour of non-compliance to health safety measures, and downplay the threat of COVID-19, the situation will worsen and it will lead us into a lockdown of affected areas, to protect the most vulnerable people,” Amongi warned.
Early last week, the Minister of Works and Transport, Maj. Gen. Katumba Wamala issued similar warnings, highlighting the possibility of another lockdown if the current situation is not well managed.