Inside plan to reopen Kampala

Thursday July 29 2021
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A deserted section of Luwum Street in Kampala during the first lockdown last year. PHOTO/FILE

By Amos Ngwomoya

The Covid-19 taskforce team for Kampala met on Monday and proposed stringent guidelines, which all those operating in the city must follow when the lockdown is lifted.

Sources, who attended the meeting, told Daily Monitor that the resolutions have been presented to the chairperson of the Covid-19 national taskforce, Maj Gen Robert Rusoke.

Maj Gen Rusoke will later present the same resolutions to the President ahead of his address on Saturday.
President Museveni imposed a 42-day lockdown on the country on June 18 2021, a move he said would mitigate the surging cases of Covid-19.

With just three days to the President’s address about the status of Covid-19 in the country, there is a lot of anxiety among city dwellers, with some proposing that the lockdown be lifted to enable them return to work and salvage their collapsing businesses.

Our sources said the Monday meeting was, among others, triggered by overwhelming pressure from the business community who want government to loosen some of the lockdown restrictions.

However, the meeting resolved that for the city centre to be opened, business owners and landlords must first commit to enforcing the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

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The meeting was attended by State minister for Kampala Kabuye Kyofatogabye, Kampala Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Hood Hussein, KCCA executive director Dorothy Kisaka and her deputy David Luyimbazi, and other technical officers.

According to the source, the meeting resolved that all corridors in city arcades and Kikuubo must be free of congestion, deploy enforcement officers at entrances of all arcades, markets and taxi parks to ensure compliance of SOPs.

The meeting also resolved that the operations of KCCA’s law enforcement officers in the city be reinforced with police officers who will ensure compulsory wearing of face masks, social distancing and compulsory washing of hands for all those entering arcades.

Other enforcement officers, our source said, will be deployed on the roads to ensure that all taxi operators adhere to the SOPs.

For any landlord whose tenants breach the SOPs, the meeting resolved, the building will be closed immediately while taxi operators shall have their vehicles impounded.

However, our source also said the meeting resolved on partial reopening.
Mr Luyimbazi confirmed that the meeting was held but declined to offer details. He also acknowledged pleas by city traders to have arcades reopened but noted that they must know that observance of SOPs is the only way the spread of Covid-19 can be mitigated.

“We want traders to understand that we all lose when we are in lockdown but if we show commitment to observance of SOPs, then we can win this battle together,” he said.

Mr Luyimbazi also confirmed that they will present the resolutions of the Monday meeting to Maj Gen Rusoke who will then guide them on the next course of action.

He said they have resolved to use stringent measures when lockdown is lifted, which include, among others, arresting all those who defy Covid-19 SOPs.

The chairperson of Kikuubo traders, Mr Muhammad Katimbo, said they are ready to work  to ensure that traders observe all SOPs. “All traders must know that this is a matter of life and death and it’s upon us to change the status quo by observing SOPs. We have engaged authorities to consider reopening the city centre and if our request is granted, we will not compromise on the health standards,” he said.

Covid hotspot
Kampala continues to be the hotspot of Covid-19, registering the most cases and deaths.

The city has only eight public health centres but they only do testing for and vaccination against Covid-19. But the testing kits are very few compared to the demand.

The facilities also do not have the capacity to admit Covid-19 patients because they lack specialised medical equipment.
The city’s Covid-19 rapid response team, which is supposed to evacuate Covid-19 patients from the communities to hospitals, is very small, which makes most cases untraceable.

KCCA currently operates only a fleet of 18 ambulances, which are supposed to evacuate Covid-19 patients from communities and transport them to health centres.
But health officials say this fleet is overwhelmed.

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