4,200 companies close over Covid-19 lockdown

Affected. Casual workers at Lukaya Natural Rice Farm leave the company premises after a meeting on March 28. Some of the employees were temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus lockdown. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • She said most of these factories are using the lockdown period to maintain their machines until production resumes.

Government yesterday revealed that 4,200 companies across the country have shut down as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown.
Addressing journalists at the government-run Uganda Media Centre yesterday, the Minister of Trade and Cooperatives, Ms Amelia Kyambadde, said only 215 industries/factories, especially those producing essential commodities, are still operating.
She said the 4,200 companies that have since shut down could not maintain the workers and other Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) that were issued by President Museveni and the Ministry of Health requiring the factories to keep staff on site if they were to continue operating during the lockdown.

“Those companies that shut down failed to encamp their staff at the factory as directed by President Museveni since they had no facilities where their workers could sleep, besides feeding them. Other companies failed to cut the numbers of essential staff to operate critical production,” Ms Kyambadde said.
She said most of these factories are using the lockdown period to maintain their machines until production resumes.
She, however, did not explain the fate of the workers who were employed at the closed factories.
Ms Kyambadde said among the 215 operational factories are pharmaceutical companies that are manufacturing drugs and other factories manufacturing essential commodities such as sugar, sanitisers and masks.

Imports, exports reduce
At the same briefing, Ms Kyambadde said the country’s imports and exports have drastically reduced as a result of the pandemic and lockdown in various countries across the world.
Ms Kyambadde said Uganda’s imports fell from $711.9m (about Shs2.7 trillion) in January to $593.7m (about Shs2.2 trillion) in March, while exports reduced from $383.6m (Shs1.4 trillion) in January to $352.9m (Shs1.3 trillion) in February.

Ms Kyambadde also revealed a decline in the number of cargo trucks entering and leaving the country by 28 per cent for the inbound cargo and 29 per cent for the outbound cargo.
Meanwhile, Ms Kyambadde said her ministry has established that prices of different essential commodities by different traders are normalising and no longer prohibitive as previously at the start of the lockdown.

Salt shortage
Ms Kyambadde also revealed that government has cleared another company to start producing salt locally.
She said currently, Uganda does not produce adequate salt and has been relying on imports from Kenya, the reason prices of salt shot up from Shs800 to Shs5,000 a packet when the lockdown started.
“Kampala Salt Limited that has been importing salt is putting up a salt processing plant with a capacity of 192,000 tonnes per year on Jinja Road and are in final stages,” Ms Kyambadde said.
“Herbal Salt Plus Limited is also producing table salt at a capacity of 500kg per week. If the country has them all producing salt, we shall have enough salt,” she added.