HOIMA – Market Vendors operating in different markets in Hoima City want the government to provide them with tents that they can use for accommodation before they can start spending nights in the market as per the presidential directive on limiting the spread of Covid-19.
Hoima district Covid-19 Task force on Friday received 800 mosquito nets that will be given to the market vendors. The mosquito nets will be distributed to market vendors who will spend all the time of lockdown in markets as per the presidential directives.
The nets were delivered by Babigasa Andrew, a data analyst for the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) at Kasingo district local government stores.
While receiving the mosquito nets, Hoima City Resident Commissioner (RCC) Kisembo Samuel said, the nets will benefit vendors at Hoima Modern Central, Duhaga, Kidomole and Kinubi markets.
Kisembo expressed excitement over the delivery of the nets saying that the task forces have been unable to enforce the directive which requires market vendors to sleep in the markets due to lack of nets.
He notes that after distribution of the mosquito nets, all market vendors will have to abide by the presidential directive.
The taskforce will meet to decide on the distribution exercise and ask market leaders to start registering market vendors who are willing to spend the nights because we are not going to allow any vendor who is not willing to sleep in the market to operate” he vowed adding that those who do not want to sleep in the market should stay home until the situation normalizes.
However, the market vendors argued that the supply of the nets is not the requirement that guarantees them to stay in the market.
Speaking to theCooperator, Ayesiga Julius, the Chairperson of Hoima Modern Central Market said that there are some issues which the government should address before market vendors start sleeping in the market.
According to him, the market vendors have no shelter where they can erect mosquito nets and demand the government to provide them with tents.
He explains that during the first lockdown, vendors occupied the third-floor rooms for night accommodation but the rooms were rented out to business people.
He also demanded the government to evict street vendors from the streets since market vendors continue to make losses at the expense of the street vendors.
Ayesiga adds that the facility has about 400 market vendors willing to stay in but such challenges are a hindrance.
“You cannot tell us to stay in the market, when other vendors are selling all the commodities in the market from morning to 7:00pm on the streets, it means those operating in the market will not be working since all customers will be hijacked from the streets” he explained.
Musiguzi William, the vendor’s chairperson of Duhaga Kidomole market in Hoima West Division noted that since it’s a rainy season, provision of tents by the government is the best option for now.
The market has over 200 vendors but only 80 are willing to sleep in the market because of such challenges.
“In the president’s address, he promised to provide us with mosquito tents and nets; I wonder why they are only giving out mosquito nets, imagine if it starts to rain at night what will happen to us, let the task force first address some of these challenges before they starting forcing us to sleep in the markets.” he demanded.
However, RCC Kisembo said that the president never promised to offer tents to the vendors adding that claims of the vendors are baseless and asked them to get ready to start sleeping at the market facility.
“This is false, there is no where they have given out tents and so we shall not initiate something which is not in existence” he said.
One of the women market vendors who preferred anonymity appealed to the task force to investigate the market leaders whom they accused of allowing other vendors staying at their homes to operate in the market.
“Some of our colleagues (vendors) are still operating inside the market while coming from home and this is risky to us who are staying in the market because they may infect us with the virus, am sure they are dealing with our market leaders after giving them kickbacks” a woman operating Duhaga Kidomole market complained.
Lawrence Tumusime, the Hoima district health officer said that once the vendors spend the nights in the markets as directed, the community infections will be reduced.
According to him, Hoima district by Friday last week registered 1,178 Covid19 cases, 328 recovered and 29 succumbed to the pandemic. He added that 746 are receiving treatment under home care arrangement and 9 are being managed at the treatment unit at Hoima Regional Referral Hospital.
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