Kampala’s night life during curfew time

Friday April 10 2020

Some of the people arrested for allegedly flouting the curfew on Wednesday night. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

I t is 8:20pm on Wednesday at Mbuya junction in Nakawa Division and 60 people have been arrested for allegedly flouting the curfew.
While a number of those arrested looked unbothered, a few others who said they were either sick or responding to emergencies were crying or pleading with security forces to set them free.

Mr Prosperous Matovu was returning from a clinic. His doctor had delayed, leading him to be caught up in the curfew time.
“I was knocked sometime back and they fixed a metal in my legs. So I had gone to see the doctor for medication, but he delayed. When I was coming back, it was already past 7pm. That is why I am here. I have never defied the directive and I am pleading with them to release me because I still have medicine to take at home,” Mr Matovu said in tears.

At Kawempe Police Station, more than 60 people had been arrested since the lockdown took effect over a week ago.

They were mostly boda boda operators, people who congregate at night to drink in closed bars and those found walking at night.

Across the city, while majority of the population has responded to the President’s directive to stay home and not move out past 7pm, there are still hotspots where people have continued their normal lifestyles.

At 10pm, business is as usual at Nakulabye, a suburb. Chapatti sellers, petty traders, prostitutes and boda boda riders still loiter in the area beyond the curfew time.


When asked why they were still loitering, many said they cannot abandon their livelihood to stay indoors.

“The President has money and many of us are struggling. If we remain home, where shall we get money for what we need?” one asked.
“The President said we can come out and sit in the compound and we should not be arrested, so this is our residence where we both work and stay. That is why we are outside here by the roadside,” another youth in Kikoni slum, said.

At Nateete, scores of prostitutes and drunkards could be spotted walking from their hideouts, staggering with bottles of beers and spirits.

Truck drivers not complying
Across the city and its suburbs, truck drivers and delivery trucks are also defying the night time curfew. Police and other security forces are also not enforcing it against them.

Asked why they allow truck drivers and delivery vans to operate at night, security forces said they did not receive clear guidance on whether to arrest such or allow them operate.

Since the curfew started, more than 300 suspects have been arrested in various parts of the city and suburbs.
In east of Kampala, police arrested more than 150 people for defying the curfew. The Kampala East regional police commander, Mr Michael Musanyi Isabira, said they have continued to arrest people who defy the directive.
He, however, said many of the people are security guards who walk to work.

“When we arrest them, we screen them, but we have realised most of them are security guards and sick people or those attending to sick people. What we do is we identify the security guards, the sick and those attending to the sick and release them.
However, for security guards, we tell them either to go to work early or they should be transported by the company vans because if we get them again, we shall arrest and prosecute them like any other,” he said.

“Since the operation started, we have arrested more than 150 people and we have taken them to court. We prefer charges of disobeying lawful orders on those we get just walking or riding during the curfew time, but also when we get them committing other crimes, the charges now vary,” Mr Musanyi added.