Mr President, the next time you address us, we would like to see you seated with a select committee on finance discussing an economic stimulus package that caters for citizens who have been put out of work for five weeks. Also tone down on some of the lockdown restrictions.
The Covid-19 war has been fought mostly by following guidance set by the World Health Organisation such as social distancing and washing hands. Uganda has been lucky enough to cope well with some aspects and have left a flat curve.
The media has been impressive at sensitising people on the disease and virtually everyone is doing their part.
What we have not addressed is a comprehensive economic stimulus package and preparations of a post-Covid-19 situation with a gradual loosening of the restrictions.
We would also like to see another taskforce that is brainstorming and advising on the gradual easing of the lockdown so that we do not get caught off-guard.
Here is how we can do it. Regulate public transport by having commuters carry less people, say eight in a 14-seater taxi, all required to wear face masks.
The taxis should have sanitisers. Allow private cars to move with only one occupant. This will weed out those careless and self-seeking drivers who use personal cars as taxis for hire.
Let’s also adopt and learn a culture of working in shifts to avoid crowding in public places such as shopping malls. At least they can get to work some days in the week. Offer self-paid tests for those who can afford them and allow them to work with caution.
Allow the unaffected areas to open for businesses cautiously with more sensitisation on prevention of Covid-19 and constant reminder of its dangers.
Instruct and monitor closely the district task forces that have just gotten financial facilitation from the supplementary budget to be more zealous in preventive messaging in their areas of operation.
Put the onus on the truck drivers and their employers to test, test, and test so as to clear their drivers at their expense as they seem to be the loose end in the war against Covid-19 that we are evidently winning.
Mr President, we have walked this tough journey together, been through the numbers, held tight with extension and upgrades to the lockdown, and are ready to reap from the benefits of loosening of the lockdown.
Other countries that have been hit harder like Germany, Australia, Spain and states like Georgia and Texas in the US are already beginning a phased easing of their lockdowns.
These, however, have done it with a comprehensive stimulus package and Uganda definitely and desperately needs one, too. Let’s copy all that has worked for other economies around the world in the fight against coronavirus and ease our restrictions.
Apollo Kantinti is a former MP, Kyaddondo East