Money changers at Elegu one-stop border point, Atiak Sub County in Amuru district, have reason to smile as business slowly returns to normal.
Majority of the money changers were pushed out of business due to the widely reported prevalence of COVID-19 at the busy border post.
However, at the moment a total of 250 out of 500 active money changers have resumed business.
Zulaika Bulyaba, a money changer at Elegu border post, said there has been a great improvement in the business over the past couple of weeks.
“The situation at the start of lockdown was bad. Only five people remained here and, and even they could hardly make Shs 20,000, in profit; but at the moment one can go home with Shs 40,000 profit,’’ she said.
Zulaika says she was one of those that kept working even during the lockdown since the public means were banned with immediate effect and she was unable to go anywhere.
Elijah Lutukumoi, also a money changer at the border, says the going is much better for them than people involved in other businesses, given the current circumstances.
“Imagine how many people have lost their businesses. If you can get something small for your family to feed on, count yourself lucky,’’ he said.
Lutukumoi says that some of their colleagues might not make it back to the money-changing business, having used their capital to feed their families since the shutdown of business was so abrupt.
He says they were affected by limitations on their interaction with the truck drivers due to COVID-19 fears, yet they are their biggest clients. However, the enhanced testing speed for the disease has proved a boon for both the business people and their clients.
“Due to the on-the-spot COVID-19 testing and release of results within a few hours, we can deal with ease with the truck drivers, unlike in the past where each of them was looked at as having the disease,’’ he said
The LCI Chairperson Elegu, Kassim Akule, said the money-changing business is picking up, though it remains slower than it used to be before COVID-19.
He stressed that all those involved in the business are required to observe strict health precautions.
“They are working but with strict measures in place so that they do not mingle with truck drivers who have tested positive for COVID-19. A face mask and hand sanitizer are a must for one to operate freely, and they are under close supervision by the district surveillance team so that they adhere to Ministry of Health directives,” he said.
By press time, Uganda had registered 1,135 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 989 recoveries, and 2 deaths.