By Sarah Mazirwe – Kampala, Uganda, Thursday, March 26, 2020.
As the world battles to contain the deadly COVID-19, law enforcement officers in Uganda’s capital city – Kampala have been in battles with the public over defiance to heed to the president’s directives.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced, Wednesday, March 25, 2020, he’s forbidding the public transportation from commuting by taxis, trains, motorcycles, Tuk-tuks, and also closed of non-food markets to contain as a measure to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Police officers arrested several public transport operators with others having their vehicles and motorcycles impounded at police.
Also, police sister security forces, Local Defense Units (LDUs) officers also spent the day battling with the locals in markets especially in Kampala city who defiled the directive by opening up non-food markets.
“Markets bring together many people. However in markets social distancing of 4metres is impossible to achieve. Hence markets will only sell foodstuffs that are matooke, sweet potatoes, cassava, rice, beans, etc. Trading of non-food items like clothes, mobile phones, shoes, sandals, etc is henceforth suspended,” Museveni ordered.
Museveni ordered only hotels, offices, and factories would remain operational. Defying this order to the people who got onto the hands of defense units faced it rough.
This created mixed reactions in public with many supporting the move; others remained neutral, while others condemned it. Among those that condemned were some members of parliament (MPS) saying it’s not appropriate and demeaning. The MPs asked Museveni to restructure and call off some directives that include the closure of shops.
“We have called on the president to revise his measure of banning public transport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The drastic measure like that could have been declared in steps because this is going to bring up another problem of starvation and this might hurt the economy. People have abandoned their shops and you will find them in distress,” Allan Sewanyana, Makindye West Division MP suggested while speaking to the government newspaper.
Passengers also got stranded as transport fares from different destinations hiked abnormally, caused by the ban on public transport. Uganda currently has 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and all these measures are being put up to stop the spread of the virus to further population.