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Lira City Vendors Shun Directive To Spend Nights In Markets

LIRA – Vendors selling foodstuffs in Lira City have disregarded a directive by President Yoweri Museveni to spend nights in markets as a measure to control the spread of Covid-19, as Uganda battles a deadlier second wave of the pandemic.

The directive was issued at the pronouncement of a 42-day lockdown in which movement was restricted within districts and curfew hours adjusted to 7 p.m. According to President Yoweri Museveni, staying in markets will help traders keep Corona virus at bay since they will be stationed in one place, while equally protecting the rest of their family members.

But the vendors argue that spending nights at their places of operation is a big inconvenience to their family; it threatens their safety and hampers their businesses. The vendors include men and women, breastfeeding mothers, senior citizens and even youths.

Ongu Walter, a dealer in general merchandise at the Lira Main Market says the risk of overcrowding the market is high.

“If we choose to abide by the directive, our business will go down; I request that the vendors be allowed to operate while strictly following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) instead of sleeping in the market,” Ongu said.

Akello Sharon, a breastfeeding mother who sells Irish potatoes at Juba Market says the market does not have proper structures to house her eight months old baby.

Acen Vicky, a vendor at Junior Quarters Market said that spending nights in open spaces where they operate threatens their health and safety.

Meanwhile, Ajok Betty, another vendor is worried that emergency cases like sickness which attacks children at night will be difficult to attend to when they sleep in the market.

Ogwang Josephine, another vendor at Lira Main Market argued that the market is not a conducive place to stay because it does not have water and electricity.

“The absence of women in their homes at night will stir domestic violence, and how about our welfare, since the market has no water and electricity,” she argued.

Edwoko Basil, the Chairperson Lira Main Market said, the market is bound to be closed if the vendors cannot abide by the guidelines issued by the president.

“The market will be closed any time if the vendors cannot abide by the presidential directives; if they wish to continue with their businesses then tell them to use their torches at night,” he said authoritatively.

Lira City has more than 10 food markets including Juba Market, Lira Main Market, Produce Lane, Odyek-Ejang Market, Cuk-Alok among others.

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