Covid-19: Workers, traders want govt to lift lockdown

Thursday July 9 2020

A trader sells merchandise from a car parked on

A trader sells merchandise from a car parked on Namirembe Road in Kampala. Government is yet to lift the ban on shopping arcades and other places. PHOTO/ALEX ESAGALA. 

By TONNY ABET

The National Organisation of Trade Unions (Notu) and Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita), have said keeping some places under lockdown is irrelevant and that Ugandans can live with Covid-19.

The two bodies, who also warn that the government stands to lose more in the long run, say the government should only put in place Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and do the enforcement.

Mr Usher Wilson Owere, the Notu chairman general, said scientists have already done enough to establish where Covid-19 came from and how it can be prevented.

“Let the government and scientists start planning on how we can live with coronavirus. Schools, airport, churches, mosques and all other workplaces must be opened,” Mr Owere told Daily Monitor yesterday.

“I strongly ask the government to open up everything, including schools, all work places, places of worship, including the country’s only international airport, but continue with SOPs in all areas,” he said.

Mr Owere, in a social media post, also said Ugandans have obeyed all the measures put in place [by government], respected all the President’s orders, but that the situation is getting worse day by day as the lockdown restrictions continue.
“….continuing with the lockdown is becoming even more dangerous than coronavirus. Many [people] have lost jobs, domestic violence is increasingly going out of hand, [and] the government is losing popularity,” he said.
Mr Owere said people have started doubting even the Ministry of Health, which is central in the response against the pandemic.

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He said the act of security officers turning guns against civilians will harden efforts to engage the public in fighting the pandemic and listening to the government.
“Time will come when no one will listen to the government at all, [and] that can be very dangerous,” he added.

Kacita speaks out
Mr Everest Kayondo, the Kacita chairperson, who also maintains that Ugandans can live with the virus, says the association is planning to pen a strong letter to the government, questioning the relevance of the continued lockdown.
The Kacita boss said it is perplexing that up to now, the government has kept the arcades locked even when there is no notable difference between them and the malls.

“These [issues of arcades and malls] are just names in detail. If you go to the US, they are called ‘malls’ and if you go to the United Kingdom, they are called ‘arcades’. There is no difference. Let them just provide SOPs so that people can work,” he said.

“Even when it comes to schools, they should just be given SOPs and allow them to handle the rest. I don’t see why these things are not ending. I don’t understand why the government is insisting on closing anything at all. All these places should be opened and given SOPs,” he added.

Government responds
Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Primary Healthcare, in response, said Ugandans should exhibit a little more patience.

The minister said their committee is studying the situation and that arcades will be reopened soon, followed by churches. The minister did not specify the date, though.

“It is not that Ugandans can’t cope up with Covid-19 but there is a purpose to have [Covid-19] infection-free community,” she said.

“Some people may not see the relevance of moving in a systematic, coordinated phased manner [in easing the lockdown]. It has a lot to do with control of the infection,” she said.

Dr Kaducu said the essence of a phased lifting of the lockdown is to interrupt the transmission of the infection, most especially in the community.

The minister said there are a number of areas they look at before lifting the lockdown on a place or sector.
“From the time we started easing the lockdown, we look at the behaviour of the people, how they have embraced measures and the prevalence of the infection, before advancing to the next step,” she said.

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