Covid-19: Let’s be flexible on directives

Thursday April 2 2020

Street children play on the verandahs of closed

Street children play on the verandahs of closed shops along Main Street after the number of people accessing Jinja Town kept reducing. PHOTO BY DENIS EDEMA 

By Editor

The restrictions on transport and human movements are hurting the population, but for good intentions. The aim is to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (CV-19) and resultant deaths.

However, there is need for adjustments in some of the restrictions to allow flexibility, especially in special circumstances. For example, the order for private cars to seek permission from RDCs to take a patient or woman in labour to hospital needs review.
RDCs are not easily accessible, especially by people in villages. They live at district headquarters. Getting the RDC on phone can prove to be hard. Probably they are also overwhelmed because everybody is calling them.

But the procedure is complicated. A person falls sick or a woman goes into labour at night and you are also lucky to get the RDC on phone, you will need a written and stamped movement permit, which the RDC cannot give on phone.
But you can’t drive to the RDC because movement of private cars have been banned. Government vehicles at the district are also not readily available. There is an approval procedure for these vehicles to be released.
An emergency can’t wait for procedures. By the time you get the RDC’s written permission, the patient might be died or in an irreversible condition.

Government should find some ways of relaxing this directive, but with measures to avoid abuse. Such permission could be secured from the nearest authority in the community, who is easily accessible by the residents in case of an emergency.
Private well-wishers, including local politicians, should be allowed to give out relief food to the vulnerable. The argument that they cause crowing during distribution of food may be true, but banning them is not a solution either.
That problem can be cured by issuing strict guidelines to follow during the food distribution process. Moreover, there are also crowds in centres where RDCs are distributing government relief food.

Let’s not discriminate well-wishers because of politics. Government cannot have enough resources to give relief support to everybody. That’s why non-state partners should be welcome. We only need to ensure safety during the distribution. When you don’t have enough troops going to war, you can’t start screening out the aged because you will weaken your fighting force further.

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