East AfricaNews

Museveni sets tough conditions for reopening the economy

President Museveni last night further relaxed of COVID-19-related restrictions on the operation of arcades, salons and bodaboda operators, albeit under tough conditions meant to avoid a resurgence of the disease.

The president said both arcades and salon operators will be allowed to resume work with immediate effect, while passenger transport by bodaboda starts July 27.

Notably, the President directed all actors within these sectors to keep a record of all their customer interactions for easy follow-up with regard to community spread of COVID-19.

Under the new guidelines for reopening business, Museveni said traders in arcades, salon operators and boda riders shall also observe social distancing, wear face masks at all times and use temperature guns to take customers’ temperatures, in addition to other safety measures. 

Nevertheless, the president prohibited   vendors from operating in arcade corridors, on verandas and at entrances of city buildings, in order to limit numbers in the shops. 

However, Godfrey Katongole, Chairman Kampala Arcade Trader’s Association (KATA) said limiting the number of people per shop in the arcades is not possible because of rent costs.

”Traders are only able to afford the high rent charges in city arcades through cost sharing, where about ten traders rent the same premises. Any attempt to subvert this arrangement will be unfair and disorganize our work,” Katongole argues.

Rather, he urged the president to help ease distressed city traders many of whom are currently choking with rent arrears accumulated during lockdown.

“Many traders are locked out of business by landlords, even though government has allowed some arcades to resume business.” 

Impractical guidelines?

Meanwhile, bodaboda operators who spoke to theCooperator said some of the President’s guidelines regarding their operation will be difficult to implement in practice.

Ambrose Mukungu, the Chairperson Kisansa-City square boda-boda stage says riders cannot keep records of each customer they transport.

“Not every client is willing to share such information freely, and few boda operators would refuse to carry passengers who decline to do so.”

Moreover, he cautioned that whereas the proposed information sharing would help government track community cases of COVID-19, it poses a security threat in the case of criminally-inclined operators who may use the telephone contact and physical addresses provided by clients to take advantage of them. 

Mukungu also believes that it will be difficult for bodas to observe social distancing at their bodaboda stages.

According to the president’s directives, although the general dusk to dawn curfew has been extended, from 7:00pm to 6:30 am, to 9:00pm to 5:30 am, boda-boda operations will end at 6:00pm to ward off crime which, he said, some elements within the sector were previously involved in.


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