Vendors at Lukaya Road toll market in Kalungu District have breathed a sigh of relief after Agriculture minister Vincent Ssempijja ordered the reopening of the facility.
The deputy Resident District Commissioner, Ms Sarah Nanyanzi, and officer-in-charge of Lukaya Police Station, Mr Vianny Birungi, had closed the market last weekend to avoid exposing vendors and their customers to the deadly coronavirus.
But Mr Ssempijja, who is also the area MP, on Tuesday said a complete shutdown of the market would render about 700 vendors jobless. Instead, he advised that the market reopens but the management should adhere to precautionary measures set by the Ministry of Health such as mandatory hand washing.
“The presidential directive did not affect permanent markets. May be he will announce that later; what our people have to do now is to follow the guidelines issued by government,” Mr Ssempijja said in an interview.
He also asked the management of the market to ensure that all vendors do not reach out to motorists who stop at the market to buy eatables, as is the practice, but wait for them at their stalls.
“In doing this, they [vendors] will avoid overcrowding near their customers’ vehicles as they normally do,” the minister added.
After Mr Ssempijja’s directive, Ms Nanyanzi and Mr Birungi met the vendors and Mr Joseph Wasswa Ssekitto, the proprietor of the market, and read to them the new rules.
Ms Nanyanzi warned the vendors that once they violate the new rules, the market will be closed again. “Anything we suspect of exposing our people to coronavirus, we have to swiftly intervene,” she said.
Located on Masaka-Kampala highway, Lukaya Town is popular for its roadside market that sells snacks, roast meat (muchomo) and gonja (sweet plantain). The town also serves as a refreshment ground for many travellers from Kampala to parts of Greater Masaka region, western Uganda and others connecting to the Tanzania, DR Congo and Rwanda. Some travellers, especially truck drivers, usually spend a night or two in the town.