The government has cleared 48 city arcades, which are set to reopen today. The move follows an on and off meetings between government, city landlords and traders.
Clearance of the 48 arcades is a welcome development as it will relieve the stakeholders – traders, arcade owners, workers and customers - to make fresh start after four months Covid-19 lockdown.
When opened, arcade business operators will join their colleagues operating in Kikuubo business centre, in malls, restaurants, etc, that the government earlier allowed to operate. Others are private and public transport operators.
While private cars are allowed to carry four people, buses, coasters and taxis are allowed to carry only half their capacity. Public transport operators were also directed to provide sanitisers to passengers boarding and exiting and ensure that when in the vehicle, they wear a mask.
But there is still a concern. According to the Minister of Trade, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, there are still 35 shopping centres that remain closed pending their fulfilment of a number of issues. We agree.
However, cognisant of the overflowing human congestion at Kikuubo business centre, at city malls, and generally in downtown, many of whom are not observing Covid-19 measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands, government risks being misconstrued as practising discrimination when it continues to lock down boda bodas, salons, and even places of worship, which many people consider to be better organised.
And deliberate or not, there is a creeping tendency by government to yield to pressure piled on it by groups that are under lockdown as seen by the fast clearance of the 48 arcades following protests by arcade trades. One wonders what really is at stake.
If preventing the spread of coronavirus in the country is our goal, then why should government allow interest groups/bodies like traders to compel it to lift lockdown measures when doing so can lead to dire consequences?
From the unfolding examples, will it first have to take bishops, pastors, sheikhs, teachers, barbers, and boda boda riders to demonstrate or threaten to do so before churches, mosques, schools, and salons are opened? That should not be the case.
It is high time the government rolled out a well drawn plan for lifting the Covid-19. This should be done without forgetting that the pandemic is still a danger to the population. Therefore, we should intensify sanitising, washing hands with soap, social distancing, and wearing masks, among others, in order to stay safe.